Why We Remember Music and Forget Everything Else - Deepstash

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Why we can recall music

Why we can recall music

Music often feels like it is part of our subconscious. It is constantly playing in the background, at the coffee shop, in the elevator, and working from home.

In 2017, Nielsen estimated that Americans spend over 32 hours a week on average listening to music. It's then not a surprise that we remember music and can easily recall lyrics and melodies. 


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Many of us can hear music in our minds, named musical or auditory imagery.

It can happen voluntarily, such as thinking about a song, or it can happen involuntarily - when the song pops into your mind without you trying to recall any music, called an earworm. About 90% of people have an earworm once a week and a third of people have an earworm once a day. Those who engage with music more often experience more earworms.


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Music represents who we are, how we feel, and what we remember

Music represents who we are, how we feel, and what we remember

  • One reason why music has become so intertwined with how we express and comfort ourselves is because listening to music releases dopamine in the brain.
  • Music awakens our memory. When we can identify pieces of music, we can bring back memories associated with the music.
  • Music can also have an emotional impact. Even if you identify a short piece of music, you have a musical imagery experience that triggers the memory of the whole piece of music and its associated memories.


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