The Effects of Music on Short-Term Memory Recall
- 30 seconds to see each tray.
- 9 items on each tray.
- 30 seconds of music.
- Same music during memorizing and recall
- There is different music in each trial.
- There are different items on each tray.
- Number of items recalled.
- Time it takes to recall items.
- You remember 5-9 items in your short term memory1.
- Short term memory is used for storing not processed thoughts
or items such as the fact that the 5th house down the
street has light blue flowers.
OTHER MEMORY TESTS THAT HAVE BEEN DONE:
- Many tests show that music is linked with studying
techniques, ways to remember items, and tray tests, but no other
tests that I have seen do repeating music2.
- Studies have come to the conclusion that classical music helps recall. Rock music sometimes helps too, because the music is so distracting you work to block out the music pushing it all away and putting more thought into your answer3. Which works better? That's what I'm here to find out.
- Many studies have shown, music increases effectiveness of
studying habits, and testing results.
- Music is found to reduce stress, allowing it to be easier to study.
1) Trial #1 (Classical)
- Rubics Cube
- Small stuffed animal
- Glue Stick
- Binder Clip
- Arm Brace
2) Trial #2 (Silence)
- Knitting needles
- Paint Brush
- Business card
- The Mini-Yellow Submarine
- Garden Scissors
4) Theme Song (Mr. Ed Theme Song)
5)Classical (Symphonic Dance No. 3 Op. 64 No 3 by Edvard Grieg)
- Recruit and tell participants about the experiment.
- Set up a Skype call with the participants, and share your
- Show participants a picture of the first of three trays for
thirty seconds, with nine items on the tray (items specified in
materials). Have the same music playing while they memorize and
while they write the items that they remember down. The music is,
Symphonic Dance by Edvard Grieg.
- Time how long it takes for the subject to recall and write
down the items.
- Ask for the number of recalled items.
- Write down the data: the subject name, the number of items
remembered, the time it took to recall the items, and the type of
- Repeat two more times with different trays and music. The
next trial would have no music, and the last have the Mr. ED Theme
- Repeat for approximately 30 people and analyze.
INDIVIDUAL DATA:Graph #1 shows individual data for the 22 subjects (aged from 10-82), with a range of 2-8 for the number of recalled items.
NUMBER OF RECALLED ITEMS:Graph #2, a bar chart, shows the average number of recalled items for each trial. The average number of recalled items while listening to classical music is 6.59. The average number of recalled items for the silence trial was 6.23, and 4.95 for the theme song trial. The subjects recalled the least while listening to the theme song.
Graph #3 is a histogram of the number of recalled items. The three trials are represented in different colors. Most subjects recalled seven items during the silence trial, which was to be expected, since other studies have shown that the most common amount of items to remember was seven. Also, the histogram confirms that the subjects did the worst while listening to the theme song.
TIME TO RECALL ITEMS:Graph #4 recorded the average amount of time the subjects took to recall the items in each trials. The classical average was 44.77 seconds. The average time for silence was 47.73 seconds and 46.23 seconds on average for the theme song. The average recall time was similar between all the trials.
Graph #5 is a scatter plot that compares recall time to the number of items recalled. There probably is not a correlation between the recall time and the number of recalled items. However, there may be a trend, where the subjects who recalled the most took the least amount of time.
FURTHER ANALYSIS:Graph #6 shows the change from classical music to silence (Trial 1 # of recalled items – Trial 2 # of recalled items). eight subjects' number of recalled items increased during the classical music trial, compared to silence trial. Four subjects remembered one item less and ten subjects number of recalled items stayed the same.
Graph #7 shows the change between the sound track and silence (Trial 3 # of recalled items – Trial 2 # of recalled items). Four subjects' number of recalled items got better by one and fourteen subjects' number of recalled items stayed the same or got worse by up to four. Four subjects' number of recalled items stayed the same. The theme song trial number of recalled items was much worse than the silence trial.
If I could redo the experiment or add more data, I would change the order of the trials by mixing up the songs and trays. It is possible that the order of the trays affected the results, since the difficulty to guess what the items were was not controlled. Also, the order of the music may have made a difference, along with the possibility that some subjects' performances may have changed over time.