• Cognitive Effects of Music: Working Memory Is Enhanced in Healthy Older Adults After Listening to Music

      Wang, Alan; The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; Denburg, Natalie (The University of Arizona., 2013-03)
      Music is ubiquitous in all media, and, in the last decade, has become a potential tool for enhancing cognition. This study aimed to investigate the facilitating effect of music on working memory performance in a healthy older adult cohort. Sixty-three healthy, community-dwelling older adults who had previously undergone comprehensive neuropsychological testing were enrolled in the study. Participants were randomized into one of two groups, and were presented with a series of positive and negative musical clips. Following listening, working memory performance was tested using Wechsler Digit Span and a computerized Spatial Span task. For each task, a total score consisting of number of correct forward and backward sequences was calculated. A significant improvement in Digit Span scores was found after listening to music as compared to Digit Span scores collected ~5 years ago. Contrary to our hypothesis, this facilitative effect of music on working memory held for both positive and negative musical stimuli. It has been shown that negative music can illicit the same pleasurable feelings as positive music, and, given West’s frontal lobe hypothesis, can therefore produce the same effects on working memory as positive music.