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The Effect of Familiar Melodies on Initial Learning and Long-term Memory for Unconnected Text

David W. Rainey and Janet D. Larsen
Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Winter 2002), pp. 173-186
DOI: 10.1525/mp.2002.20.2.173
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mp.2002.20.2.173
Page Count: 14
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The Effect of Familiar Melodies on Initial Learning and Long-term Memory for Unconnected Text
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Abstract

In two experiments we tested the hypothesis that music, in the form of a familiar melody, can serve as an effective mnemonic device. Prior research has provided very little support for this commonly held belief. In both studies, participants learned a list of names that they heard either spoken or sung to a familiar tune. In Experiment 1, the melody was "Pop Goes the Weasel"; in Experiment 2, the melody was "Yankee Doodle." We measured the number of trials to learn the list initially and the number of trials to relearn the list a week later. In both studies, there was no advantage in initial learning for those who learned the names to the musical accompaniment. However,in both studies, participants who heard the sung version required fewer trials to relearn the list of names a week later than did participants who heard the spoken version.

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