Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Does Type and Valence of Music Affect Memory Performance?

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Music is an essential part of everyday life. It is considered a universal means of expression that often fosters communication and engagement. With music everywhere around us, the ways in which music impacts the listener varies tremendously. It is generally agreed that music is beneficial for improvements in cognition, mood, and productivity. Previous literature suggests that even just the addition of background music may improve task performance compared to no music. For example, the valence of music has been shown to play a critical role in memory, such that positive valance is more easily remembered compared to negative valence. Music is thought to not only improve memory, but also aid in recall and recognition ability. When paired with emotions, these abilities may be enhanced, leading to greater performance. However, there is conflicting evidence as to whether music improves ability above and beyond silence. The current study builds upon prior research to better understand how emotions in music benefit memory. Similarly, the study explores how lyrical music may affect memory during specific tasks. Forty undergraduate participants were asked to read two stories while listening to music in the background. Participants completed recall and recognition tasks for each story. We hypothesize that the positive valence music group will perform better on recall and recognition than the negative valence music group. We also hypothesize that the lyrical music group will perform worse on recall and recognition than the non-lyrical music group; however, the lyrical music group will implicitly remember certain words from the music during recognition.


Abstract will be updated with results before April 14.

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