Did you know the average person forgets 4 things a day? Wouldn’t life be more gratifying if you could consistently remember where you left your keys or the last place you put your wallet? Better yet, wouldn’t it be comforting if you could just remember people’s names when introducing them, or even where you parked your freaking car while rushing out of the grocery store? Eureka!
So if you’ve ever been interested in bolstering your retention rate, and you can easily hum your favorite tune, then alas, there is hope for yet! Pull up a chair and cozy on up, because in the next few minutes I’ll explain to you the remarkable effect that music has on human memory, and how you can use it to your advantage. And hopefully, by the time we’re done, you’ll be able to remember your wife’s anniversary!
Feel The Beat
The late great Michael Jackson once crooned, in his smash hit “Rock with You” – “You’ve got to feel….that….beat….!”. And looking back, I’m starting to think Mike was on to something. It’s been proven that the speed and effectiveness of learning can be increased when repetition is combined with musical patterns that hover around 60 bpm (beats per minute). In fact, it’s been said that this was a favorite method of learning among the ancient Greeks when reciting their lines for various plays and dramas.
One of the best ways to increase memory retention is to understand just how music stimulates both sides of the brain. Classical music pieces played around 60 bpm are known to decrease blood pressure in the body. This results in a noticeable spike in brain wave frequency, which will, in turn, elevate a person’s ability to learn and recall things faster and with more ease. You may even see someone’s pupils start to dilate when this is taking place, because of their skin’s electrical response to the music being played. Not to mention, additional responses may include balanced and relaxed breathing and even sudden emotional responses in some cases.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Music has also been known to enhance the memory of Alzheimer’s patients. It’s not shocking at all to hear music softly played in nursing homes because of its stimulative emotional and cognitive effects on memory. This is also true for people suffering from debilitating diseases like dementia. Studies have shown a significant increase in the recollection of autobiographical memories. They also displayed an enhanced ability of verbal retention, facial recognition, and sentence completion. Amazing!
Have you ever noticed how listening to a nostalgic song will take you back to a place that you haven’t been in years, or in some cases, to somewhere that may have completely forgotten altogether! You may recall someone you were in a relationship with in the past, especially if strong emotional feelings of a romantic nature were displayed for this individual.
You can even see music’s effect on memory displayed in the emotional responses of infants. They can, in fact, remember things better when music is played for them. One study displayed how the infants were asked to look at pictorials of people’s faces, that displayed a broad range of emotional responses. When there was music being played in the background, the infants recalled more emotional responses from the pictorials at an increased rate of speed.
To Play or not to Play
While it’s quite obvious that your memory will vastly benefit from listening to music. There’s an added caveat. It’s even BETTER to actually play the music you’re listening to! It’s a known fact that the memory has a positive response to learning music because this practice rigorously challenges each and every part of the brain.
Studies have shown that musicians have more balanced and symmetrical brains. Learning to play an instrument enhances the parts of your brain responsible for motor control, auditory processing, and spatial coordination.
Additionally, playing music releases the magical molecule known as dopamine from the brain. While this “feel good” chemical is released in the brain while ‘listening’ to music, the amounts are even higher when performing.
So as you can see, music will enhance memory retention for everybody, from babies to senior citizens! And no matter your age, it’s never too late to start. So fire up some Mozart, and go find those car keys!