Music Enhances Memory

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“Listening to music is a form of traveling.” When I was introduced to this idea a few weeks ago, I was surprised that I hadn’t thought about music in that way before. As part the lecture series at my school, we had a speaker from the neuroscience department at the University of Iowa, Amy Belfi. Her research focused on music’s ability to enhance memories. From her research, thus far, she had determined that the prefrontal cortex of the brain helps connect songs and memories, and she also concluded that songs help retain memory more so than visual items like pictures.

As she explained her research she gave the example of a 90s pop song that took her back to a high school show choir competitions. She went on to play the most popular songs of the decade for the past 50 years. It was obvious when she entered the 21st century because the auditorium instantly erupted with murmurs of kids singing the songs, or jiving to the rhythm. I immediately turned to my friend and told her this song reminded me of the awkward middle school dances.

At the conclusion of her presentation, Amy Belfi really brought her research home by explaining the potential implications of her research. If music is better able to preserve memories than pictures, this is a possible treatment for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

It was crazy to think that listening to music, something I love to do, can not only enhance memories, but also help individuals with Alzheimer’s have a better quality of life. Apparently, I need to listen to music even more often!


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