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This the interference of working memory when exposed to

This study was conducted to investigate
if music had any effects on working memory when asked to recall a list of
words. Participants that were involved in this study were undergraduate
psychology students that were recruited to earn credit for their psychology
class through SONA. Participants were asked to listen to a list of ten words
with and without music, and were asked to write down as many words as they
could recall. After collecting all data, working memory was best performed when
no music was playing in the background. Once an analysis was conducted, it was
concluded that there was no significant difference in the interference of
working memory when exposed to music.

Keywords: music, working memory, recall, listen

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The Effects of
Working Memory and Music


In everyday life, people encounter
situations in which working memory is used daily in order to recall information
such as new names, phone numbers, directions, or a specific due date for an
assignment.  Majority of the time working
memory is being interfered with background noise or other noises in the
environment that make it difficult to recall any type of information. Research
has been conducted to study the effects of working memory and noises when recalling
information. There has been research in which working memory is being affected
and not affected by music or any type of noise. The question of interest for
this study was to investigate if working memory and the recalling of words with
and without music had any impact.

An example of a study that researched
retrieval words and working memory was published by Shannon K. de l’Etoile
(2002), in which memory retrieval was tested on two different days. The first
day consisted of participants listening to words, and listing antonyms for the
words in which they heard. The second day consisted of participants making an
effort to recall as many antonym words as they could remember. A significant
difference was indicated when participants were able to retrieve more words
when music was played. It demonstrates that music does not have an impact when
working memory is being used.

In comparison, a study that was
conducted by Anne Marie Green, et al. (2007), studied the effects of working
memory in recalling orally presented text with and without music. Participants
were measured on three different conditions which were the number of words
recalled, response time, and the time taken to process the words. The study
showed that no significance on working memory being interfered with music, and
any type of background noise


had no impact on the ability to remember words. It can be
seen that in this study, noise did play a key role in working memory in
retrieving as many words as possible.

Another study that was conducted by
Simon P. Banbury, William J. Macjen, Sebastien Tremblay, and Dylan M. Jones
(2011), measured the effects particular noises have on variety of cognitive
tasks. The study resulted in that several acoustics and noises have a large
effect when memory plays a role in certain tasks. Memory retrieval has a higher
chance of being vivid when noises are interfering. Even though several studies
have been conducted, as observed, music or noise do not have a particular
effect on working memory. One interesting point made on this study is that the
intensity of music or any particular sound has an influence on the process of
working memory. The more intensity there is in a sound the more likely a person
is to remember a piece of information. This particular study it was found that
whether it was a shout or whisper, the interference on working memory is
equally the same (Simon P. Banbury, et al., 2011). In other words, depending on
the intensity and pressure of a sound it can disrupt the working memory



Fifty-six SONA undergraduate students
participated in this experiment for credit in a Psychology 150 or Psychology
250 class at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The participants
self-selected the study in which they would like to participate.


            The stimuli
used was a paper with ten typed appropriate words that was read out loud to
participants (Figure 2). To write down the words recalled by the participants,
flashcards and a


pen was handed out at the beginning of the experiment. A
portable Bluetooth speaker was used to play the song “Radioactive” by Imagine


were involved in a within-subjects design in which both conditions were exposed
to all conditions. This study involved two different levels which were no music
and music, and the words recalled. The manipulated variable was the music and
the measured variable were the words remembered. To analyze the data collected,
a paired sample t-test was conducted.


            The testing
of this study took place at CSUN’s Sierra Hall building in room 322. Prior to
participants’ arrival, one flashcard and a pen was placed on all desks. When
participants arrived, they were asked to give their SONA student ID in order to
be granted credit for participating in the experiment. Once all participants
were seated, brief overview and instructions were given orally. The first group
of participants consisted of seventeen participants. This first group listened
to the list of ten words with no music, and asked to write down as many words
as they could recall. The flashcards were all collected and given a new set of
flashcard. Second part of this study involved a repetition of the ten listed
words, but with music playing in the background. Similar to the first part of
the study, participants were asked to write down as many words they could

At the end of the study, an oral
debriefing was given to participants, and the opportunity to ask more
information in regards to the experiment. 
In comparison, the second group that consisted of fifteen participants
was counterbalanced which means that the order was different. The second group
was first exposed to music and then to no music, and following the same

procedures as the first group, were asked to write down as
many words as they could recall. When all data was collected, it was then
imputed into a software called SPSS which helped my group determine if there
was a significant difference in words recalled with or without music.


            To find the
difference between number of words recalled for fifty-six CSUN undergraduate
students with music or without music, a paired sample t-test was performed.
There was no significant difference in the words recalled with no music (M=
6.46, SD= 1.319), and words recalled with music (M= 6.43. SD= 2.026), t(27) =
.071, p


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