CURIOSITIES

Music makes us remember the past: it's true, even science finally says so

Have you ever been listening to a song, perhaps at the gym or bar with friends, or even just at home alone, and suddenly be struck by an old memory now almost forgotten? If yes, then you really understand what we are talking about.

Science knows the phenomenon well: it is called autobiographical memory evoked by music, and it is much more common than it may seem. Moreover, it is also a phenomenon related to external environmental factors and the uniqueness of the individual.

In short, music influences our brain and the chemical reactions within, prompting us to remember the good (more often) and bad (rarely) events of our past, since, after all, music is always present in all moments of our lives.

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Music makes us remember the past: it's true, even science finally says so
Have you ever been listening to a song, perhaps at the gym or at the bar with friends, or even simply at home alone, and suddenly be struck by an old memory now almost forgotten? If yes, then you really understand what we are talking about. Science is familiar with the phenomenon: it is called autobiographical memory evoked by music, and it is much more common than it may seem. Moreover, it is also a phenomenon related to external environmental factors and the uniqueness of the individual. In short, music influences our brain and the chemical reactions within, prompting us to remember the good (more often) and bad (rarely) events of our past, since, after all, music is always present in all moments of our lives.
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Music makes us remember the past
Even many centuries ago people understood the great power of music connected to memory. Proust, mentions in his works his experiences, when listening to music he was struck by the intensity of memories that pervaded his mind. We have all had this experience at least once, whether it made us smile or brought a tear to our eye, with a particular song fixed in focus in our memories.
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A study has now taken a closer look at the issue
The phenomenon is called autobiographical memory evoked by music. Kelly Jakubowski , a professor of music psychology at the Durham University (England), wrote extensively about it in an in-depth study on the subject published at "The Conversation".
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What music makes us remember
Talking about memories is very general, so it is better to say that it happens that a particular song reminds us of a moment, a feeling or even a particular person. Still other times a particular scent or color. Also acting on a biochemical level in the brain, it also influences our emotions and actions: some times it annoys us, or reduces our stress, or causes us to perform a certain action, or even acts as an actual doping substance.
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A phenomenon that occurs spontaneously
The peculiarity of this effect of music is that it makes us remember things without the slightest effort, completely involuntarily and independent of our control. Obviously, such a phenomenon is very interesting for neuroscientists and psychologists. Think about it, after all: music envelops almost all the major moments of our lives, such as parties, weddings, funerals, ceremonies and so on. A connection is therefore created, even the study speaks more appropriately of reconversion, between notes and memory.
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Music and body
Another key aspect of understanding the power of music well is that this expressive medium involves the body much more than other mediums such as painting and sculpture. Listening to music gives us the impulse to move, to dance, to go wild, thus giving it much more power than all others, even compared to words themselves.
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The comparison between music and words
One of the studies conducted by researchers related music to other types of "emotional sounds" (noises of nature, and "emotional words," such as money or tornadoes) that conveyed the same message as music. The results were surprising: although music and "emotional sounds" carry the same amount of memories, those conveyed by music turn out to be happier. Simply put, sad music evokes memories with happier tones than sad "emotional sounds."
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Music and other art forms
A different study, conducted by the same scientists, confirmed a few things. First of all, the familiarity of music (the more familiar we are with a song, the more times we have heard it over time, the more likely it is to bring back memories), but also its incisiveness. This means that, according to the results of the research, music evokes more, and more powerful, memories for us than other art forms such as books, films and paintings. This is because, precisely, music pervades all our daily lives, and it is therefore easier for the brain to connect to these auditory stimuli than visual ones.
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Situations are also important
Think about it, when a song makes you remember something, you usually won't think of that time you were doing the dishes or hanging out the laundry. No, you will be reminded of that trip that opened your heart, that person who hurt you, that party where you met your first love. This is because the context in which you listen to music is important: you often listen to it while traveling, or you are at the gym, or you are at a party with friends. All situations in which the mind is free to wander. And, indeed, reconnect with the past.
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