Cross-modal schema effect of music pairing on shape sequence acquisition

Thumbnail Image
Ren, Yiren
Brown, Thackery
Associated Organizations
Organizational Unit
Organizational Unit
Supplementary to
Music is a multidimensional sequence of pitches and temporal intervals that has a predictable structure over time. Prior literature has revealed that humans are innately equipped to learn and anticipate these pitches and intervals. Because of the important role music plays in humans' daily lives, learning how music interacts with other cognitive processes would help future utilization of music in clinical or applied ways. Though many studies have tested how to use music as a tool to improve other cognitive functions, fewer studies have investigated how music potentially affects memory encoding for information other than the music itself. This question is worth investigating, given music’s regular structure and frequent presence in the background while we study or simply experience our daily lives. Schema theory has shown that new information that is related to a learned memory structure can be encoded and learned faster, although this has never been directly tested, to the best of our knowledge, in the context of the learned structure being music. Thus, this study aimed to apply schema theory using an association between musical sequence properties and the workload required for parallel visual item sequence encoding – in doing so, I tested whether listening to familiar and regular music provided a "temporal schema" through its organized and hierarchical structure that has a cross-modal influence on the acquisition of other (here: visual) mnemonic information. Consistent with my hypotheses, the results revealed an interactive effect of music familiarity and music regularity on parallel visual sequential learning. While listening to music may improve or distract from parallel memory encoding in various circumstances, this study not only provided novel evidence that music regularity and familiarity were both factors determining the music’s influence, but also implied that music’s effect on memory might depend on other individual differences factors.
Date Issued
Resource Type
Resource Subtype
Rights Statement
Rights URI