Pop Music in Memory Recall of People with Brain Injuries

Pop stars like Michael Jackson, Madonna and the contemporary ones today such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Beyonce might have been doing you more good than you can ever imagine. Immersing yourself in more familiar music today may help you summon back personal recollections someday.

If you’re a bit older, the blasting of pop music today can be irritating, loud or just plain unexplainable. But then if you have had a severe brain injury and has lived through this music, it could have helped you recall memories better, study says.

Study on MEAMs

The MEAM’s or the Music-Evoked Autobiographical memories were the center focus of the study of Amee Baird and Séverine Samson with which the result they outline in the journal of Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

Baird and Samson took the first study on the subject and are pioneers in the said subject. The two has extracted music from Billboard Hot 100 number one songs. They played it in random order to five patients. These songs are made sure to be taken from the music that has been popular in a patient’s lifespan starting at the age five until the current age of the patient. Another set of people who have no brain injury has also been played to of the same music.

The researchers have asked how the records were familiar, whether they liked it.

And the most important question asked is, did the songs invoked memories?

Study Result

The study has found out and recorded that MEAMs are similar in both group.  Only one in their study has not recorded any MEAMs and its a person with ABI. But then the highest MEAMs have been recorded by the patient with ABI or acquired brain injury as well.

The most recalled memories were those of people, a life period, a specific person and all were positive. The songs that have invoked memories are those that are more familiar and more liked.

Reason Behind the Study’s Positive Outcomes

It has been known that music has many uses in terms of therapeutic cases. The result has established that MEAM’s are even better than AMI or the Autobiographical Memory Interview in recalling autobiographical memories.

When people undergoes an acquired brain injury , tendency is they will be prone to autobiographical amnesia or forgetting one’s own life events or incapability to recall memories.

“The findings suggest that music is an effective stimulus for eliciting autobiographical memories and may be beneficial in the rehabilitation of autobiographical amnesia,” researchers say.

Music as a tool becomes the effective stimulus that can elicit memories. These can be due to the association of the music to the certain person’s life events. The relationship of the memory, music and emotion still though needs to be further studied.

The study has taken the Billboard Hot 100 number one songs in American Music industry. For different countries, own billboard tops can also be utilized.

Pop Music and MEAM’s Implications

The pop music of today might play a big role in helping patients with traumatic brain injuries in the near future. And this study might open up several more doors in helping brain injured patients. Plus music might even play a bigger role in the medical industry someday once more studies come to light.

History of Music as Used in the Medical Field

Music has been long established, and with evidences to date, to affect changes in the physical, psychological, cognitive and social domains of a person.

In regular settings, the playing of one’s favorite music can send out all the blues out of the windows. It can improve mood and help in relaxation. But that doesn’t qualify as music therapy yet.

Music therapy as used in the field of medicine involves a trained therapist and the right environment. It has become then a powerful means to achieve goals set by the patients and the therapist. It can address the goal set and can have positive outcomes.

More medical use of music includes:

    1. Pain lessening
    2. Mood improver
    3. Can help alleviate depression
    4. Help patients express feelings.
    5. Reduce anxiety
    6. Keep Alzheimer’s patients cal down and recall memories.
    7. Keep infants calm

And to that, music therapy can’t just be done by untrained therapist. One has to be licensed. And with the new findings over the benefits of pop music and MEAMs, it has become an additional in the roster of music benefits for medical field.

Image Credit: RelaxingMusic from Flickr.