Memory Improvement With Wide-Awake Listeners and With Nonclassical Guitar Music

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Our previous research demonstrated memory improvement for phrases of classical minuets across delays of 4–15 s during which listeners heard the continuation of the piece (Music Perception, 2002, 2014). This improvement was especially strong for memory of fine details of the music, assessed in terms of discrimination between targets and similar lures (phrases that retained the melodic and rhythmic contours of targets, but shifted them in pitch). We attributed this improvement to continued encoding of the target while the attended music continues. Here we replicate that improvement effect and extend it to a style other than classical music, using Ottmar Liebert’s guitar music. On each trial, listeners heard the beginning of a piece, with a target phrase near its start. The piece continued for 3, 6, 12, or 24 s, after which there was a “beep” and a test item: a copy of the target (T), a similar lure (S), or a different lure (D). We assessed memory in terms of both T/S and T/D discrimination. T/S discrimination improved with increasing delay up to 12 s, but only when listeners were tested near the peak of their circadian rhythm (vs. far from the peak). These results suggest that the continued encoding of targets requires attentional resources, and further shows that the previously observed memory improvement effect is not restricted to classical music.

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