Pass Me the Aux: Links Between Music, Emotion and Autobiographical Memories in Undergraduate Students

Mikala Lain Butler University, Haylie Moehlenkamp Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Tara Lineweaver Butler University
Recently, we have capitalized on the relationships previously documented in the literature between music and memory by building personalized music playlists for nursing home residents with dementia. We have documented improvements in their quality of life in response to music from their late teens to early 20s (Shiltz et al., 2018; Shiltz, et al., 2015). No previous studies have examined why music popular during young adulthood may be particularly emotionally salient and strongly linked to autobiographical memories for these older adults. We designed this study to examine the link between music, emotion, and autobiographical memory in young adults who are currently at the age where these emotional connections are presumably formed.

130 undergraduates supplied ten memorable events from their high school to college years, five positive and five negative, and ten additional songs from the same era. For each event, they indicated if there was a specific song they associated with it, and for each song, they reported whether it linked to past “moments.” They then rated their likelihood of recalling those events or moments if they heard the songs again.

Our findings comparing moments to events indicate that music stimulates recollection of autobiographical memories independent of the emotional valence or substantiality of the experience. The strong links we documented both between past events and songs and between songs and moments in our young adult sample helps explain why the use of music from their late teens to early 20s is so effective for residents in long-term care.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:15 AM
Pharmacy & Health Sciences 103