|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 853-856
An experimental study on the effect of background music on memory recall among medical students
P Sujatha Prabhu1, Reshmi Prem Nair2, Luh Yee Lau2, Ju Yang Chong2, Zhi Fung Sia2, P Ashwini Aithal3
1 Department of Physiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal campus), Manipal, India
2 MBBS Students, Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal campus), Manipal, India
3 Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal campus), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India
|Date of Submission||21-Jan-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||16-Dec-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||10-Feb-2023|
Dr. P Ashwini Aithal
Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal Campus), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Introduction: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of background music on short-term and long-term memory recall and to find out which type of background music aids in the process of recalling. Methodology: Two hundred medical students were divided into four groups (fifty in each group). For all groups, the same set of words was projected with different background music and no music. Two-min time was given to memorize twenty words; they were asked to recall and write down the words within 2 min. Same participants were called back after 1 week and asked to recall and rewrite the same words, along with the same background music to which they were previously exposed. The number of words remembered by them was obtained for comparing short-term memory and long-term memory using the SPSS software. Results: Data were analyzed using the one-way ANOVA. The categorical values were described as median. Group A (no music) has obtained the highest score for both short-term and long-term memory with the median of 15 and 10, respectively. Group C (country music) obtained the lowest score with median of 11 (short-term memory) and 3.5 (long-term memory). There was statistically significance difference between Group A and C (P = 0.000), Group B (instrumental music) and C (P = 0.000), and Group C and D (rock music) (P = 0.000). Conclusions: The results show that music has an impact on learning and decreases the memory recall as highest scores were obtained for memory recall in participants who were not exposed to any background music.
Keywords: Long-term memory, music, recall, short-term memory
|How to cite this article:|
Prabhu P S, Nair RP, Lau LY, Chong JY, Sia ZF, Aithal P A. An experimental study on the effect of background music on memory recall among medical students. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ 2022;17:853-6
|How to cite this URL:|
Prabhu P S, Nair RP, Lau LY, Chong JY, Sia ZF, Aithal P A. An experimental study on the effect of background music on memory recall among medical students. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Apr 1];17:853-6. Available from: http://www.journaldmims.com/text.asp?2022/17/4/853/369491
| Introduction|| |
Memory is an essential part of our lifestyles that is vaguely understood. Memory is our brain's ability to encode, store, retain, organize, alter, and recover the information and past experiences. Memory is generally referred to as long-term memory, but short-term and sensory memory processes must be worked through before a long-term memory can be established. Short-term memory or working memory holds a small amount of information in mind for a short period usually 10–15 s, or sometimes up to a minute. Each type of memory has their specific mode of operation, but they all work together in the process of memorization.
It is assumed that memory and recall can be improved to the best of the student's abilities., Studies have been done on the effects of music and sound on the performance of students in many areas of study. However, different studies have shown mixed results. Some studies have concluded that music, especially classical, aids in the storage and recall of information in our memory.,, This may be because, music can reduce stress, making it easier for people to study and remember information. Music also provides sequential information and order of encoding and recalling so that the likelihood of skipping or misplacing a portion of the text is decreased. Wallace in his study observed that repeating a simple melody can act as a better recall aid when a text is heard as melodies with simple symmetrical melodic contours showed better facilitation of text recall, because they were easy to learn.
Contrary to the benefits of music on memory, many studies have also concluded that music has an adverse effect on memory recall. This is mainly because participants are so immersed in the music that it distracts them from doing the given task. A study by Fogelson has found that students who took a reading comprehension test while listening to music became distracted and therefore retained less detailed information. Although many studies have looked at the effect of music on word recall, not many studies have been conducted on the actual accuracy of word recall when the text is set to a familiar melody. During our literature review, we found that majority of research has been conducted to test the recall for whole verses or recall of lists. There is no study which tests the memory recall of small words with or without music. Hence, the aim of this study was to determine whether playing music during the memorization and recall period will enhance the short-term and long-term memory recall. The objectives were to investigate the effect of different background music on short- and long-term memory recall with respect to gender and to find out which type of background music has the highest efficacy on aiding the process of memory recall.
| Methodology|| |
The present experimental study involved 200 medical undergraduate students of Melaka Manipal Medical College. Ethical committee clearance (IEC 363/2016) and informed consent were taken before the study. Students in the age group of 18–20 years were randomly selected and divided them into four groups (fifty students in each group). The research participants were briefed about the objective of the study before the commencement of the experiment. The experiment was conducted in two phases.
Participants were divided into four groups. Each group was presented with the same set of words but with a different condition. Students in each group were shown a set of twenty words [Table 1]. The words were presented along with one of the four conditions, i.e., for Group A, no music was played, for Group B instrumental music, for Group C country music, and for Group D, rock music was played in the background. For standardization and to maintain the same difficulty level, the same set of words was projected to participants of all the groups. Two-min time was given for the participants to memorize those twenty words along with the respective music playing in the background. Students were then asked to recall and write down the words (with the respective condition) within 2 min to assess their short-term memory. After the task, reinforcement was done by projecting the same set of words multiple times along with the respective condition (music).
Same participants of all the four groups were called back after 1 week. But this time, words were not projected. Only respective background music was played to which they were previously exposed, and they were asked to recall and write down the same words which they were presented with, 1 week back. Number of words remembered by them was obtained to assess the long-term memory. Number of words remembered by the participants in phase 1 and phase 2 was noted down to compare the short-term and long-term memory. Furthermore, the participants were also asked whether they had the habit of reading with the respective type of music in a questionnaire.
The data obtained were then analyzed using the SPSS software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) and Microsoft Excel and was presented in tables and bar chart. The dependent variable was the number of right words each participant recalled and was described as median score, number, or percentage. One-way ANOVA followed by Tukey's post hoc test was done for comparison between the groups. P < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.
| Results|| |
The results of the experiment revealed that participants in Group A (no music) had obtained the highest score for short-term and long-term memory with the median of 15 and 10, respectively, followed by Group D (rock music) with a median score of 15 (for short-term memory) and 8 (for long-term memory). While Group C (country music) obtained the lowest score with a median of 11 (for short-term memory) and 3.5 (for long-term memory). An analysis of variance showed that a significant difference was found across the different conditions (background music) with respect to short-term and long-term memory recall (P < 0.001). Statistically, significant difference was found between Group A and C (P < 0.001), Group B and C (P < 0.001), and Group C and D (P < 0.001) with respect to both short- and long-term memory recall [Graph 1].
The numbers and the percentage distribution of males and females are shown in [Graph 2]. However, there were no significant differences in the short-term and long-term memory recall among the groups with respect to gender [Graph 3].
To assess the relationship between music and studies, each participant was asked if they have a habit of reading with or without the respective type of music. Results showed that, in Group A, 48 participants had the habit of reading without any music and 2 with music, whereas in Group B, only 10 participants had the habit of reading with the respective type of music. Similarly, in Group C, only 4 and in Group D, only 5 of them had the habit of reading with the respective type of music [Table 2].
| Discussion|| |
The experiment showed that no exposure to music and exposure to different background music significantly affected the recall of words. Results indicate that background music may have some negative impact on memory recall, as students who memorized the words with background music remembered fewer words when compared to the students who memorized the words without music (silent). This was in accordance to popular belief and previous research that participants recalled words better in the silent condition than under the condition of background music.
These results are in accordance with previous studies who showed that reading comprehension was impaired when the lyrical music was played. However, this finding seems to contradict few music and cognition literature, which propose that listening to music that one likes increases their cognitive performance.,,, Fassbender et al., opine that music hinders test performance in academics, although it enhances mood and increases students' performance in sports. Results of a study done by Balch et al., support the fact that students test performance was best when taken in the same environment, which means that participants who studied with no music and who wrote the test without music, their test scores were the highest compared to all the other conditions. Marsh et al. showed that participants engaging in category recall (recalling a list of items according to the semantic categories they belong to) were impaired when the background sound contained semantic information.
The results of the present experiment indicate that, the variables which made a significant difference in the results were the presence or absence of music and the type of background music to which the students were exposed to. The type of music played during the memorization and recall period of the experiment might have distracted the participants which would have affected their ability to properly encode the words. During the second phase, the participants could not remember and recall many words correctly because the words were not appropriately encoded during the first phase of the experiment. The students who were not exposed to any music were able to recall better in both phases. This may be because the environment surrounding the participant was quiet which helped them to encode and comprehend the words correctly. While for other groups, they were exposed to different background music, and hence their performance was less.
When median scores of participants exposed to background music were compared, it was observed that the students were able to recall better with rock music when compared to country music. This may be because present generation students like rock music more compared to country music. When we asked the participants if they have the habit of reading with music, it was found that most of the students did not have the habit of reading with music. Since they did not have the habit, the low scores in memory recall can be attributed to this fact that music has an impact on the learning and memory recall of an individual.
| Conclusions|| |
Results of the present study show that music has an impact on learning and actually decreases the memory recall as highest scores were obtained for memory recall in participants who were not exposed to any background music. This information would be valuable for student's education point of view and methods by which they approach learning. Students can avoid unnecessary music when they study or when they recall the information. Furthermore, this study is useful to educators to find a better way to help the students to improve their performances in studies.
All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Ethics Committee.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2]