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The effects of emotion on memory for music and vocalisations

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Music is a powerful tool for communicating emotions which can elicit memories through associative mechanisms. However, it is currently unknown whether emotion can modulate memory for music without reference to a context or personal event. We conducted three experiments to investigate the effect of basic emotions (fear, happiness, and sadness) on recognition memory for music, using short, novel stimuli explicitly created for research purposes, and compared them with nonlinguistic vocalisations. Results showed better memory accuracy for musical clips expressing fear and, to some extent, happiness. In the case of nonlinguistic vocalisations we confirmed a memory advantage for all emotions tested. A correlation between memory accuracy for music and vocalisations was also found, particularly in the case of fearful expressions. These results confirm that emotional expressions, particularly fearful ones, conveyed by music can influence memory as has been previously shown for other forms of expressions, such as faces and vocalisations.
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Keywords: Emotion; Fear; Memory; Music; Vocal expressions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), Montreal, Canada

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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