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Does recall of a past music event invoke a reminiscence bump in young adults?

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Many studies of the reminiscence bump (RB) in music invoke memories from different autobiographical times by using stimulus specific prompts (SSPs). This study investigated the utility of a non-SSP paradigm to determine whether the RB would emerge when participants were asked to recall a single memorable musical event from “a time long ago”. The presence of a RB in response to music has not been obtained in such a manner for younger participants. Eighty-eight 20–22 year olds reported music episodes that peaked when their autobiographical age was 13–14 years. Self-selected stimuli included a range of musical styles, including classical and non-Western pop forms, such as J-pop and K-pop, as well as generational pop music, such as the Beatles. However, most participants reported pop/rock music that was contemporaneous with encoding age, providing support for the utility of published SSP paradigms using pop music. Implications for and limitations of SSP paradigms are discussed. Participants were also asked to relate the selected musical piece to current musical tastes. Most participants liked the music that they selected, with many continuing to like the music, but most also reported a general broadening of their taste, consistent with developmental literature on open-earedness.
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Keywords: Autobiographical memory; Free report; Music; Open-earedness; Reminiscence bump

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Empirical Musicology Research Group, School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

Publication date: August 8, 2016

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