Study: Music, memory, and growing up

As regular readers know, I’m a sucker for studies that purport to explain various phenomena.  Here’s a study summary that looks at one of the most evocative stimuli for remembrance of things past: music (no, not madeleines).  From the article:

Matching our intuitions about music, researchers have found that music is an important influence on our memories. We associate songs with emotions, people, and places we’ve experienced in the past…. But it’s not easy to parse out exactly how music evokes memories.

I certainly can agree with that sentiment…I remember sneaking down at night to play a Tom Lehrer album of my dad’s.  Be Prepared was my fave, presaging my career as an evil Eagle Scout.  When I hear Bohemian Rhapsody I’m back in a van heading to play a high school basketball game, hearing Stuck in the Middle with You makes me reach for my ear, and so on.

The study — at least as conveyed by this summary — doesn’t oversell the results. 

[I]t seems to come down to personal preference: songs you like are more likely to be associated with memories. But do the preferred songs evoke the memories, or do we like the songs because we associate them with memories? Since this is only a correlation, this study can’t tell us.

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