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Emmanuel Medina
Daniel Perkowski
7 January 2015
Music, its Effect on Memory and Attention
Mozart makes you smarter. Studies have shown that those who listen to classical music
during their childhood perform better in school(How to Learn par.2). Humans listen to music for a
variety of reasons; many listen to music because they find a certain genre entertaining: music is
also a way to relieve stress. Knowing this led me to conduct an experiment on music's effect on
memory.The data obtained by this experiment showed that those who listened to the classical
music memorized more cards. This can be useful information because teachers would be urged to
play classical music during class time. If students would be able to listen to music during class, it
would be likely that they would perform better. My groups hypothesis for the experiment was
that if a high school senior listens to classical music while trying to remember a set of cards they
are more likely to recall the cards than those who were not listening to music because the classical
music will help the students focus more. To test this hypothesis my group gathered twelve people
at random. We divided the twelve into two groups, one group listened to music while attempting
to memorize the cards and the other group did not. The music that was used to conduct this
experiment was a piece by Mozart called Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; the group decided to choose
with classical music.


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Music has been used as a form of entertainment for thousands of years. When humans
hear a song that may reflect their current situation, a surge of emotion is normal response. A study
conducted by Stanford University showed that the parts of the brain that control attention were
more active when a person was listening to short symphonies by 18th-century composers(Mitzi
Baker par.1). The team used eight symphonies by composer William Boyce because his music
was familiar but not widely recognized (Mitzi Baker par. 9). The experiment was conducted with
eighteen people: ten men and eight women. Those being conducted would enter an MRI machine
wearing noise-reducing headphones (Mitzi Baker par. 9). The evidence produced by this
experiment says that during the short interval that the subjects were tested, they found that there
was a major difference between activity levels in the right and left sides of the brain during the
entire transition, with the right side significantly more active(Mitzi Baker par. 12). This source
helped me design my experiment by giving me ideas on what type of music to use. Knowing that
I would not be able to use an MRI scanner I made my assumptions based on the data my group
An article by Education Weekly states that practicing and performing music helps
students cognitive development (Sarah Sparks par. 2). The article quoted research and stated that
the students had more neural connections in regions of the brain associated with creativity,
decision making, and complex memory, and they may improve a students ability to process
conflicting information from many senses at once (Sarah Sparks par. 4). A team at the University
of Montreal conducted the research; they tested 15 musicians with many years of experience
(Sarah Sparks par. 4). The team also tested 15 non-musicians of the same age; the study showed
that the musicians were more than twice as accurate at distinguishing touch and hearing (Sarah
Sparks par. 4). The result from the experiment is obvious; people who regularly practice music

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use their brain more often than those who do not (Sarah Sparks par.4 ). The evidence shows that
practicing music leads to an increase in cognitive skills. Other experiments that have been
conducted show that participating in music at a young age can lead to an improvement of complex
memory (Sarah Sparks par. 6). The experiment done by this group assisted me in conducting my
own experiment by making me aware of how many groups I should have.
An article published by the common health organization compared the use of music to the
brain. The article talked about a school in Boston that has music as a core curriculum (George
Hicks par. 3). One of the directors of the school stated, Since we started implementing El
Sistema, the Venezuelan music program, as well as project-based learning, our test scores have
increased dramatically(George Hicks par. 9). The administrators strongly support music in their
school curriculum because it has a direct correlation to the increase in test scores, At the Boston
Childrens Hospital; a team has studied the brain to find a connection between musical training
and language development (George Hicks par. 12). The group stated that they believe the musical
training increases executive functioning skills (George Hicks par. 21). The results from the
school in in Boston should be noted: music is another way where young kids can learn to expand
their brain and learn a new hobby. Students also learn to work together because they have to rely
on one another if they wish to succeed in an orchestra;
An experiment that was performed at the University of Wales Institute, included 25
subjects; the subjects were between the ages of eighteen to thirty (Elizabeth Landau par. 2). The
subjects were given a list of letter in order and were supposed to memorize, and restate the letters
(Elizabeth Landau par. 3). The subjects went through multiple trials with music they liked, and
music they disliked (Elizabeth Landau par. 5). The scientist stated that music may impair
cognitive abilities when trying to memorize things in order because one may get thrown off by the

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changing of words and notes (Elizabeth Landau par.6). Albeit, the research does not directly
correlate to my experiment, it can be compared because my experiment tests a person's memory
with music.
The hypothesis my group used was if a high school senior listens to music while trying to
remember a set of cards are more likely to recall the cards than those who were not listening to
music this is because the classical music will help the students focus more. From the data we
collected I can say that those who were listening to the classical music while trying to memorize
the photos were more accurate. The MRI conducted by Stanford shows how the neuroreceptors in
the brain light up when listening to classical music. Knowing this I can say that my hypothesis
will be correct because of how the brain reacts. Another piece of evidence that supports my
hypothesis is the school in Boston. The schools test grades have increased drastically since they
introduced math as a core curriculum. The introduction of a daily music class has a direct
correlation with test grades.
Materials and Methods
Materials List:
Different colored Construction Paper
Twelve Images (apple, oranges, dog, The White House, Barack Obama, television, shoes,

bananas, diamond, triangle, horse)

A computer
Noise Reducing Headphones(Beats by Dre)
Classical Music (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik By Mozart)


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1) Print out the images

2) Cut multiple color construction paper in half
3) Glue the images onto the construction paper
4) Set up the music with the headphones
5) Then sit the subject down and let them listen to the Classical music for forty seconds
with no distractions
6) Show the subject twelve cards in a row.
7) Show each card for three Mississippi while the subject is listening to the Classical
8) Ask the subject to repeat all the cards that they remember
9) Give the subject fifteen seconds to say all the cards they recall
10)Ask the person to participate in a second trial
11) Repeat steps five through nine for the second trial
12)After testing six people with music you need to find six subjects to participate without
13) Sit the second group of people down and ask them to remember the cards This group
will not have any music
14)Give the second group of test subjects thirty seconds to relax
15)Once the cards are shown ask them to repeat all the images
16)Give the subject fifteen seconds to say all the images they recall
17)Then ask the students to conduct a second trial
18)Repeat steps 14 through 16 for the second trial
Experimental Design:
The control group for our experiment would be the people tested without music. We chose
this as our control group because they are simply memorizing the images; they will not be

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affected by anything or asked to do anything other than memorize. The experimental group for
our experiment was the people who listened to the music. We chose this as our experimental
group because this group was treated differently than the other group. This experimental group
was affected by the music; they were tasked with memorizing the images with loud music playing
from the headphones that they were wearing.
The independent variable for our experiment is the classical music. The piece by Mozart is
the independent variable because the music is something that could affect the way the person
memorizes something. The dependent variables of the experiment are the amount of images the
participants remembered. The images are dependent variable because we are testing if people who
are listing to classical music will memorize more images than those who are not listing to the
classical music. Both groups are given the same images to memorize. There were many constants
in my experience; the music, the images, the headphones, and how much time the subjects had to
view the images. We tried to keep these factors constant because we wanted fair and reliable data.

Data Tables

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Test w/Music

Trial 1


Trial 1

Trial 2

Test Without/Music
Trial 2

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Bar Graphs:

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A trend that I noticed was that the group who listened to the classical music while
attempting to memorize the images was able to memorize on average, almost two more images on
the first trial compared to those who did not listen to music. For the second trial, it can be said
that the experimental group was able to memorize almost one more image on average. From this
data, it can be said that the classical music helped the experimental group memorize
approximately two more images on average compared to the control group. According to
experiment done by Stanford Medical the parts of the brain that are in control of attention are
more active when listening to classical music (Mitzi Baker par.12). The noise reducing
headphones also helped the experimental group because they were less distracted by outside

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A second trend that occurred during the experiment was that the control group was able to
memorize more on the second try. A possibility that the control group memorized more could be
linked to the fact that they were able to see the cards again and were given a second chance to
memorize. Another reason could have been that the test subjects knew what they were looking for
the second time around. The answer to why the control group performed better the second time is,
the more you view the easier it is to remember.
A third trend that took place in our experiment was that no one in the control group was
able to memorize all of the images. This could be because they did not have the advantage of
listening to the classical music to help them relax their brain. Another possibility could be that
they did not have the noise-reducing headphones on which could have led to the test subject being
distracted by something occurring in the room. As the article in Education Weekly states, the
students at the school Boston performed better on exams after music was introduced into their
core curriculum. The results that the introduction of music has had on the young students is
impressive; a larger experiment should be conducted where music is implemented into elementary
and middle school curriculums all across the country.
If a high school senior listens to classical music while trying to remember a set of cards
they are more likely to recall the cards than those who were not listening to music this is because
the classical music will help the students focus more. After conducting our experiment, it is safe
to say that those who were listening to Mozart while attempting to memorize the cards were more
accurate than the group that listen to any music. Our hypothesis was supported by our data
because on average the experimental group recalled almost two images than the control group.
The research we found can connect to our data. The MRI conducted by Stanford Medical showed

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that the neuroreceptors in the brain became more active when listening to classical music. This
could mean that the brains of the people in the experimental group were able to process more at
that time. Another connection from our data was that people who practice music in their life have
better cognitive skills. This could mean that the music enhances one's ability to learn, pay
attention and function.
A possible error that occurred during the experiment could be the different time periods
that people were tested. The way our results could have been affected, people have different
moods during times of the day. For example a person may have been either hungry or full during
afternoon; a person that was tested after school may have been exhausted because of the long
school day and the amount of the time they have been awake. In an attempt to remove this error I
would test everyone at the same time, for example the afternoon, so there would be no unfair
advantage. If I was to correct this mistake the experiment would become more reliable. This is
because everyone would be treated the same and exhaustion would be less of a factor.
A second possible error that might have occurred in my groups experiment could be the
amount of time each person was given to look at the image. This error may have affected the
subjects because they could have had more or less time to view images during the testing. This
could have led them to memorize one card better than another card. If I would be able to revise
the experiment I would put on headphones that would alert me every three seconds. This
improvement would increase the validity of our experiment because the subject would be able to
view every image for exactly three seconds.
During our experiment, a possible bias could have been that all the music trials were
conducted with the same musical piece by Mozart. This bias can be described as a form of design
bias, this because we preferred Mozart; others may not like classical or some may listen to

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regularly. This bias could have affected our results because some may be bothered by his music,
and some may focus with his music. A way that our experiment could have removed or limit the
bias by playing a piece that no one knows. This improvement will lead to more valid results
because it is a new song to the subject and they will not be as comfortable as if they heard a piece
they already knew.
A scientific question that our group still has about the topic is what would happen if the
subjects were asked to memorize the images while listening to rap music: would they be as
successful. Our experimental results led to this question because we saw that those listening to
classical music did better on average. To test this question we would do the same procedure
except we would change the classical music with unpopular rap song. Another scientific question
on our topic would be if a person memory would be affected when attempting to memorize while
listening to rock music. To test this experiment I would use the same procedure but change the
music to an older rock song. The experiment our group conducted can affect future research
relating to music and memory because it can be used as future reference for those attempting to
conduct similar experiments.

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Works Cited
"How Playing Music Affects The Developing Brain." CommonHealth RSS. Common Health
Organization, n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.
"Music Moves Brain to Pay Attention, Stanford Study Finds." News Center. Stanford Medical, 1
Aug. 2007. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.<>.
"Music Training Sharpens Brain Pathways, Studies Say." Education Week. Education Week, 25
Nov. 2013. Web. 07 Nov. 2014.<
Landau, Elizabeth. "Music May Harm Your Studying, Study Says." The Chart RSS. CNN, 27
July 2010. Web. 06 Nov. 2014. <>.
"The Mozart Effect How Music Makes You Smarter." HowToLearncom. How To Learn, n.d.
Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <>.