Music Perception
Memory for Verbal and Visual Material in Highly Trained Musicians
Lorna S. Jakobson, Samantha T. Lewycky, Andrea R. Kilgour, Brenda M. Stoesz

Abstract

INTEREST IN STUDYING THE EFFECTS of extensive music training on nonmusical perceptual and cognitive abilities has grown in recent years. Here, we present evidence that formal music instruction is associated with superior verbal and visual memory. Participants included 15 highly trained pianists and 21 individuals with little or no formal music training. The groups were comparable in terms of age, gender distribution, and socioeconomic status. Musicians showed superior immediate and delayed recall of word lists and greater use of a semantic clustering strategy during initial list-learning than nonmusicians. They also exhibited superior learning, delayed recall, and delayed recognition for visual designs. Group differences in delayed free recall of both words and designs persisted after controlling statistically for estimated Full Scale IQ. These results suggest that extensive music training is associated with a generalized enhancement of auditory and visual memory functions.

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