Facilitatory effects of music on memory: a review of the potential role of emotional arousal

Sherilene Carr, Nikki Rickard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Other


Research reveals background music played during learning can variously enhance or impair memory, although the conditions which determine its effect are not yet understood. Possible explanations for the differing effects of music on memory include characteristics of the music itself, such as tempo and lyrics, induced mood of the listener and personality differences. In this chapter, consideration of the type of music used to manipulate learning and memory will be reviewed, indicating that arousal may play an important moderating role, either as a means of reducing anxiety or increasing arousal to an optimum performance levels. As music is often reported to increase arousal via emotion induction or enjoyment, a well established theory of arousal-modulated memory will be argued to underly the facilitatory effects of music on memory. The methodology used within this research paradigm will be described, and adaptations will be proposed that make it amenable to investigating the effect of music induced arousal on memory. This approach provides a novel method for combining the knowledge gained from music and memory research with arousal and memory literature to further investigate the potential memory enhancing role of music.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning and Memory Developments and Intellectual Disabilities
EditorsLucas C. Eklund, Aron S. Nyman
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781608763979
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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