MUSIC AND MEMORY
MUSIC AND MEMORY
Your brain has a soundtrack. You may not be aware of it, and it may not even be one that you’ve chosen yourself, but there is a ‘go to’ list of songs and tunes inside your head which has accompanied and defined your whole life. Music and memory are inseparably intertwined. Recently, science has established that sound - perhaps even more so than sight - is what connects us to a specific time or a place.
There is just something about hearing a song that you haven’t heard for years that takes you away to a specific time in your life. All of us have differing memories, of course, and those ‘trigger’ songs will be difficult for each of us. There will be a song that will remind you of summertime in your youth. There will be a song that will remind you of your first love. Some songs remind us of going away to college, or coping with grief, or perhaps even a TV show or film that we’re particularly fond of. Who, for example, can think of the Roxy Music classic ‘More Than This’ the same way after they’ve seen ‘Lost in Translation’?
Because music can be used to conjure a memory, it can also be used to evoke nostalgia in the people who hear it; and nostalgia can be a far more powerful tool than most people realize; it’s a feeling that’s capable of making us feel safe and secure, and also bringing comfort and confidence. Accordingly, it’s used in a number of different ways.
MUSIC AS THERAPY
Amazing as it may sound, various treatments for the elderly or those with medical issues now involve the use of music. Going all the way back to 2011, a video emerged on YouTube showing an old man with dementia being given an iPod, full of music from the time he was young. The transformation that it caused within him was incredible and almost instantaneous.
From being withdrawn, and seemingly away in his own world, he was suddenly alert and awake, discussing his memories of the era, and the artists that interested him. A man who, moments earlier, wasn’t even sure of his own identity, was now discussing vivid memories of a time decades earlier.
Music therapy is increasingly recommended as a treatment for dementia. Scientists believe that music touches almost every area of the brain, and that includes some parts that aren’t touched by illness. Stimulating those areas can lead to the return of memories that were previously thought to be lost.
MUSIC AS MOOD CREATION
Have you ever come back from a holiday somewhere exotic and felt a burning desire to buy products that remind you of where you’ve been? You’re not alone; it’s one of the most common processes people go through as they’re coming to terms with the fact they’re not on vacation anymore. The sounds you hear where you’re somewhere away from home become just as much a part of that experience as any photo you take, even if you’re not consciously aware of it.
That’s why the music belongs to a country or place is used to recreate the feeling of that place elsewhere. For example, imagine going into an Italian restaurant, sitting down at your table, and suddenly noticing that the venue was playing classic British rock music. It would completely spoil your mood, and the hint of Italy that you were looking for would disappear!
The same holds true in the gaming world. The Egyptslots.com website is a popular choice for players of online slots; especially those who’ve been to the African country and actually seen the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings with their own eyes. As you’d expect, all of the visuals that accompany the slot games on the website are distinctly ancient Egyptian in theme, but they only do half the job of setting the mood.
There’s also definite Egyptian influence on the soundtrack to the games. The music combines with the visuals to make the experience complete, and thus the players immerse themselves in the feeling of being in Egypt. If the sound was at odds with what they were seeing, that mood would be shattered, and the player would be less likely to settle and stay on the website. The music helps to trigger memories of the place, and those memories keep the customer in the mood.
MUSIC AS A MOTIVATOR
Now that we live in an age of Spotify, iTunes and other music streaming platforms - as well as the age of social media and sharing every minute detail of our lives with others - we’ve become aware that everybody who goes to the gym has a ‘gym playlist’. People even curate them for others and then distribute them online. There are playlists for specific forms of exercise, and even playlists which are designed to help slow you down and relax you once your workout is over.
This can work in two ways. Firstly, music with a rapid beat naturally makes us feel more active and more inclined to put effort into movement. That’s why they play aggressive dance music in nightclubs, and gentle classical music when you’re on hold on a phone call.
Secondly, there are certain songs which are linked in our minds to achieving excellence. Anyone who’s seen any of the ‘Rocky’ movies will know the soundtrack to the films when they hear it, and they’ll also associate that soundtrack with putting in great levels of effort, and achieving more than we thought we were capable of. We begin to associate the songs we work out to with exercise. Because of that, we’re more inclined to actually do that exercise when we hear the songs. The music itself prompts a physical response in us!
So what songs feature in the soundtrack of your life? What’s the one song that picks you up when you’re down? Which songs can transport you to another place, and another time? Share your psychological playlists with us; we’d love to hear them!