Scientists study how music stirs memories

From MSNBC:Music

A new study backs the obvious notion that a song can evoke strong memories. It also reveals that you don’t even have to hear a song for the past to come flooding back. In fact, most people have an amazing ability to effectively hear songs that aren’t even being played. The new study involved 124 people, average age 19, who were asked to choose from a list of old songs and pick the one that evoked the strongest memory. One group just saw the title, another saw the lyrics, the third saw the album cover or a photo of the artist. A fourth group heard a snippet of the song.

The participants ranked the vividness of their memories. The recollections were extremely clear for each group, said researcher Elizabeth Cady. “Music is a big cue,” she concludes. You can test the power of song titles right now. But beware, one of these could ruin your day:

  • “The Theme from Gilligan’s Island”
  • “Mission: Impossible”
  • “We Will Rock You”
  • “The Macarena”

These ditties, along with “Small World,” were cited in a 2001 study by James Kellaris at the University of Cincinnati as among the most common that get stuck in peoples’ heads. 

More here.