THE POTENTIAL FOR MUSIC TO ELICIT AND FACILITATE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY (Under the direction of Norman Mar, Ph.D.) The present investigation attempts to delineate a comprehensive theory as to how musical stimuli can potentially elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory. Due to the unique role music often has in our daily lives, as well as the importance of autobiographical memories to humankind in general, it is important to understand how music interacts with autobiographical memories. An exhaustive and thorough review of the literature pertaining to music, autobiographical memory, and the overlap of the two provides the groundwork for a comprehensive theory that integrates the physiological, affective, and cognitive components of autobiographical memory and music. A musical journal which investigated the impact music had on the affective and cognitive processes of the author was kept and provided insights into the development of the theory. The result is a cohesive, temporal, and comprehensive theory of how music has the potential to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory. Clinical implications and future research are also discussed.



Jeremy Joseph Senske

Bachelors of Science, Northern Michigan University, 2001 Bachelors of Art, Northern Michigan University, 2001 Masters of Art, Argosy University/Seattle, 2006

A Dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Argosy University/Seattle In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree



Title of Dissertation:

The Potential for Music to Elicit and Facilitate Autobiographical Memory


Jeremy J. Senske


_____________________________ _______________ Norman Mar, Ph.D. Date Dissertation Committee Chair

_____________________________ _______________ Dana Waters, Psy.D., ABPP Date Committee Member

_____________________________ _______________ Elizabeth Milo, Ph.D. Date Committee Member Accepted: _____________________________ _______________ Deann Ketchum Date Director of Student Services _____________________________ _______________ Francis Parks, Ph.D., ABPP Date Chair, Clinical Department

_____________________________ _______________ Tom Dyer, Ed.D. Date President


© 2008 Jeremy J. Senske ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dedication To my loving wife and son whose continued patience and understanding has turned this leap of faith into a reality.


Acknowledgments The present work has been in the makings since the late 1990s. Many individuals have influenced its conception and subsequent development. I would like to thank my dissertation committee, Norm Mar, Dana Waters, and Zanny Milo for their commitment, investment, and trust. I owe my committee chair, Norm Mar, a special debt of gratitude in supporting my endeavor of a theoretical dissertation, remaining flexible during the process, and trusting in my ability to seek out further guidance when necessary. Dana Waters provided crucial feedback into the logistics of writing this particular brand of cerebral exercise, which resulted in critical organization and smooth transitions throughout the entire dissertation process. Zanny Milo provided invaluable clinical supervision and grounds which facilitated discussions leading to the synthesis of two of my greatest passions, music and memory. I want to thank the psychology staff at the City of Hope, particularly my supervisors Randi McAllister-Black, Anne Turk, and Sue Harden for their support and encouragement in the completion of this project. Of my friends I would like to thank Gunars Neiders for his conversations which pushed me to consider alternative ideas, while continuing to hint that I was on the right track. I want to thank my mother and father for their unconditional confidence and faith in me, along with my brother Jason for his camaraderie, sense of humor, and relentless positive attitude which continue to be a beacon of honesty for me. Most importantly, I would like to express my utmost gratitude and love to my wife, Ashly, and my son Zakary, for their encouragement, support, and patience during this process. It was their trust, faith, and confidence in me that made this dissertation possible.


TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Dedication .......................................................................................................................... iv Acknowledgments................................................................................................................v Table of Contents............................................................................................................... vi CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem.....................................................................................................3 Purpose of the Study ............................................................................................................5 Limitations and Assumptions ..............................................................................................6 Definitions............................................................................................................................7 Significance of the Study .....................................................................................................8 CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ...........................................................10 Introduction........................................................................................................................10 Physiology, Neuroanatomy and Autobiographical Memory .............................................12 Physiology, Neuroanatomy and Music ..............................................................................18 Affective Components of Autobiographical Memory .......................................................24 Affective Components of Music........................................................................................29 Cognitive Components of Autobiographical Memory ......................................................33 Cognitive Components of Music .......................................................................................39 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY ...................................................................................47 CHAPTER IV: MUSIC AND ITS ELICITATION AND FACILITATION OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY: A COMPREHENSIVE THEORY.......................49 Overview............................................................................................................................49


Arousal Levels and Individual Differences .......................................................................50 The Role of Familiarity in Musical Perception..................................................................55 Music and Autobiographical Memory: The Elicitation Phase...........................................57 Music and Autobiographical Memory: The Facilitation Phase .........................................61 The Issue of Choice and Autobiographical Reminiscing .................................................64 Goals of the Self in Relation to Autobiographical Remembering .....................................66 Older Versus Newer Memories .........................................................................................68 A Theory of how Music can Elicit and Facilitate Autobiographical Memory ..................70 CHAPTER V: CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS .........................75 Overview............................................................................................................................75 Case Number 1: Post-traumatic stress ..................................................................81 Case Number 2: Depression..................................................................................85 Case Number 3: Dementia ....................................................................................87 Case Number 4: Cancer ........................................................................................89 Diversity Considerations....................................................................................................91 Ethical Considerations .......................................................................................................93 Concluding Remarks and Future Directions......................................................................98 List of References ............................................................................................................104 Appendices.......................................................................................................................115 Appendix A: Neuroanatomical Regions and Autobiographical Memory............116 Appendix B: Neuroanatomical Regions and Musical Processing .......................121


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Music has been in existence since the beginning of man; its origins can be traced back 30,000 years ago to bone flutes, percussive instruments, and harps. All known societies have had music, it is found in every culture and historical period, and this will likely continue into the future (Lowis, 2002; Weinberger, 2004). Music has the ability to increase motivation, elevate mood, and increase feelings of control in young and old alike (McCaffrey & Freeman, 2003). As individuals, we spend numerous hours listening to music or playing a musical instrument daily. Music permeates every aspect of our culture, interpersonal relationships and our individual consciousness. Music has demonstrated its curing power in stroke patients (Schauer & Mauritz, 2003), sleep-related complaints in older adults (Lai & Good, 2004), and memory problems (Optale et al., 2001). Various reasons exist for listening to music, most notably its ability to remind us of things in the past, induce the experience pleasure and shift us into a better mood (Lowis, 2002). Listening to music can have a profound impact on our emotions and our cognition. Music, therefore, has the potential to elicit and even facilitate autobiographical memories, and may provide a means for eliciting and accessing more, higher quality information in clinical interviews. Because music plays such a vital role to our well-being, I find it rather interesting that we don’t spend more time understanding how it can facilitate autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memories are often triggered by environmental stimuli


involving sensory or perceptual cues (Mace, 2005). These types of memories help us to orient ourselves in time; Conway and Holmes (2004) state that “[a]utobiographical memories define the self” (p.161). Autobiographical remembering can be a means of emotional expression, as well as a means to assess emotions. In support of this, Alea, Bluck, and Semegon (2004) state, “our emotional experience in everyday life is related to remembered events and experience” (p.248). Autobiographical memories guide our future behaviors and help shape our self-concepts (Hou, Miller, Kramer, 2005). Autobiographical information elicited and facilitated by music can be utilized in a collaborative fashion by the clinician and client in order to facilitate more cooperative, emotionally connected sessions, which could result in fewer, more productive sessions for the client while providing the clinician with a powerful, non-invasive tool. Autobiographical memory is about defining oneself in time and in relation to others (Fivush & Nelson, 2004). Music has been shown to evoke certain emotions. In this regard, music can be seen as an antecedent to emotion, eliciting the desired emotion according to the type of music selected. Listening to music not only facilitates an emotional response, it also has a profound impact on physiological responses and cognitive processes. Music engages many areas of the brain, including cognitive realms, and it activates some of the same reward systems that are stimulated by food, sex, and addictive drugs (Weinberger, 2004). Chemically, listening to music can cause the release of endorphins which facilitate pain relief, decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate and leads to positive outcomes in affect and attention (McCaffrey & Freeman, 2003). Music can be seen as the catalyst setting off a complex change in


physiology, affect and cognition which can be implemented to elicit short-term, as well as long-term, positive changes in individuals. A theory that could delineate how music may elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory would be a huge step in the process of understanding how the physiological, affective, and cognitive components of music and autobiographical memory interact. A better understanding of how these components interact would also provide insight into reasons why humans listen to music in general. If music is capable of eliciting and facilitating autobiographical memory, as I posit, then it can be a powerful tool in the course of clinical information gathering, as well as psychotherapy in general. Psychotherapy is a process by which an individual gains insight into their thoughts, feelings and behaviors; if listening to music is capable of arousing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to our past, then it could become an integral intervention in the field of clinical psychology. Statement of the Problem According to Wright, Rivera, Shyan, Hulse, and Neiworth (2000) “[m]usic is considered among cultures’ highest achievements” (p. 291). It has demonstrated its ability to have an impact on physiological, emotional, and cognitive levels. Music is all around us in modern society—our television, radio, homes, shopping malls, grocery stores, and restaurants. It has the ability to stimulate memories, especially those involving significant life events (Allan, 2006). Autobiographical memories increase the degree of personal significance in popular music. These memories help construct an understanding of the self through time. The current conceptualization of the self also influences the construction of the past and the future (Fivush & Nelson, 2004). We often gravitate


toward music that allows us to reminisce of past events that are emotionally significant. A song can come on and we immediately begin to relive an episode from our past. Music and autobiographical memory are unquestionably intertwined, yet it is unclear exactly how music may elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory. No theories thus far have attempted to delineate a connection between music and autobiographical memory. Most theories focus on either one or the other and fail to address the physiological, affective, and cognitive aspects together. Physiological and neuroanatomical studies of music or autobiographical memory have focused on the distinct areas, such as the frontal and medial temporal lobes, that are responsible for the processing of auditory or memory material (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). Emotional theories focus on both arousal and valence in regards to musical and autobiographical material (Balch, Myers, & Papotto, 1999). Cognitive theories rely heavily on either physiological neural connections or computer models, such as connectionism, in order to explain how we mentally represent and utilize music or autobiographical memory. Although these theories do justice in their respective domains, they do not attempt to explain the connection between music and autobiographical memory, nor do they attempt to unify the physiological, cognitive, and affective operations of each. A theory that can explain how music may elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory by unifying the cognitive, affective, and physiological research to date is essential in laying the groundwork for future research in the area of music, memory, and the interaction of the two.


Purpose of the Study The ability of music to elicit autobiographical memories often goes without notice. One of the main reasons we listen to music is because of its ability to remind us of things in the past (Lowis, 2002). Listening to music can also shift our moods and induce the experience of pleasure, nostalgia, or other mood states thus acting as an external mood regulator. Memory of our personal past serves as a guide in the present, as well as assists in establishing goals for the future. Autobiographical memories help us to understand our past experience in order modify our behavior in the future, while providing a template for developing our sense of self in the present. If music can facilitate autobiographical memory, then it can be said that music is also an integral part of how we define ourselves; we often listen to specific songs because we can identify with them, either from past experience, the present situation, or hope for the future. Autobiographical memory and music are closely tied and it remains a mystery as to how they work together. The main goal of the present study is to provide a thorough analysis and critical review of literature pertaining to music and autobiographical memory. Through analysis and review, a theory will be developed that will unite the cognitive, affective, and physiological implications of how music may elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory. The purpose of the present theory will be to provide a framework for future research in the field of music, autobiographical memory, or the interface between the two. It will be beneficial to address how the theory relates to professionals and patients in the field of clinical psychology. As much of our time is spent gathering


autobiographical information from our clients on an ongoing basis, anything that can enhance this process is welcomed. Many of us work through different modalities and it may be useful to understand how music and autobiographical memory operate from affective, cognitive, and physiological points of view, while also understanding how they may operate as a system. Interventions that utilize music can be developed and implemented in practice to elicit more qualitative or quantitative results during the course of treatment. Limitations and Assumptions The proposed study will begin by reviewing and examining music and autobiographical memory as separate entities from established cognitive, affective, and physiological theories. The main theories frequently cited by researchers in these domains are related to the functioning in frontal and medial temporal lobes (physiological), arousal and valence (affective), and connectionism or spreading activation (cognitive). In addition to these theories of how music and autobiographical memory function separately, research combining the two will also be examined. Research pertaining to cognitive, affective, and physiological functioning of autobiographical memory and music separately is vast, whereas research that explores the functioning of the two together is relatively limited. Although it is the author’s opinion that music can elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory, it is not outside the realm of reason that it is the other way around. In fact, it is highly plausible that the two interact cyclically and music may be the facilitator under a set of circumstances, whereas autobiographical memory may facilitate under others. All textual references will be indexed so that others can replicate the


process of analyzing the same collection of research. A table of locations and functions for discussed cortical regions can be found in Appendix A. Appendix B will consist of a table of locations and functions for discussed neuroanatomical auditory regions. Definitions The definitions below are provided to orient those unfamiliar with language associated with cognition, memory, and music. Many of the definitions will be somewhat familiar, while others will be provided in the context of their respective cognitive and musical domains. Autobiographical memory-recall and recognition of personal incidents and events, specific time and place, and the ability to travel mentally in time to these incidents and events (Moss et al., 2003). Declarative memory-conscious, effortful memory of things such as events and facts (Squire, 1992). Episodic memory-autobiographical episodes or specific events including the context of the experience and the spatial-temporal context. Autobiographical memories are an example of this type of memory (Moscovitch et al., 2005). Semantic memory-knowledge of factual information, such as one’s age, place of residence, what the word “tree” means, etc. (Moss et al., 2003). Explicit memory-also referred to as declarative memory. Implicit memory- Memory that refers to non-conscious, automatic, and effortless learning. This type of memory pertains to the acquisition of skills, especially motor skills and early stage cognitive skill learning. It is also associated with more primitive mechanisms, such as conditioning and priming (Squire, 1992).


Connectionism- A cognitive theory in which mental phenomena are described by simple units that form interconnected networks. Connections and units can differ from model to model. Some units could represent neurons (connections are then synapses), while other units could be single pieces of information, such as a word, and each connection could be an indication of phonetic similarity. Connectionism is often referred to as parallel distributed processing or associationism. Arousal-overall intensity of a specific mood state (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). Valence-overall quality of a mood state, such as happy, sad, anxious, etc. (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). Medial Temporal Lobe (MTL)-brain structure often associated with short-term to longterm memory consolidation. Related structures include the hippocampus, parahippocampus, perirhinal cortex, and entorhinal cortex (Squire, 1992). Melody-overall relation among musical notes (Wright et al., 2000). Contour-pattern of up and down changes in pitch (Wright et al., 2000). Pitch-position of sound in a musical scale (Kolb & Whishaw, 2003). Interval-sequence of pitch distances (Wright et al., 2000). Timbre-character of sound. Example would be the difference between hearing a trumphet and piano in the same key (Kolb & Whishaw, 2003). Significance of the Study The study will entail a detailed look into the cognitive, affective, and physiological workings of both autobiographical memory and music to theorize how music may elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory into a comprehensive rationale. The study will attempt to delineate a unified theory of how music facilitates


autobiographical memory with the hopes that the present theory can provide a framework for future research in the fields of music, autobiographical memory, or both. Furthermore, this study will provide insight into the use of musical interventions for mental health professionals working with patients who are providing and working with autobiographical information on an ongoing basis. By combining the information presented in music literature with autobiographical memory literature as they pertain to cognitive, affective, and physiological domains, the study will provide a complete picture of how music can elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory.


CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction Theoretical dissertations, by critically reviewing and analyzing previous literature, question the results and assumptions made by past research. All research is based on theory and it is these theories which provide a framework for all research. Without a theory behind research, there is no framework to guide the procedure and give it a coherent sense of meaning. Theoretical dissertations can also provide an updated and systematized amalgamate of past theories which set out to unify or clarify previous notions. The data to be analyzed for this study are previous published writings pertaining to music and autobiographical memory. A preliminary literature review will provide a broad outline of the topic, as the ongoing study of the literature itself, along with the author’s phenomenological experience with music, will serve to alter both the continuing review and the final presentation itself. Several salient themes have emerged that will guide the entire study. This chapter will begin by exploring the physiological bases to both music and autobiography; a neural substratum gives rise to all subsequent cognitive and affective experiences within the human being. This section will address where (neuroanatomy) and how (neurophysiology) autobiographical memories and music are represented in the cortex. The following section will address the affective, or emotional, components to autobiographical and musical information. Several theories will be explored with


emphasis on how autobiographical memories and music contribute to both valence (specific emotions, such as anger, sadness, happiness, etc.) and arousal (intensity of emotion) in regards to affect. Finally, cognitive theories and implications in regards to music and autobiographical memory will be addressed next, with an added emphasis to connectionist principles associated with spreading activation and parallel distributed processing. Each section will end by summarizing the literature and its connection to autobiographical memory and music. The purpose of this review is to elucidate the current attempts to characterize autobiographical memory and music from each of the perspectives mentioned above, while setting up a ground for the development of a unified theory as to how music facilitates autobiographical memory. Music plays a very important role in our lives; it is ubiquitous and extremely powerful. It can remind us of past experiences, increase or decrease our level of physiological and affective arousal, shift our mood for better or worse, and have an impact on our ability to pay attention to and remember things in our environment. Individual differences are the rule, rather than the exception, but one thing remains the same: our architecture for, our responses to, and our thinking of music interact in a very complex way. Music itself is quite complex, but our sensation, perception, and response to music is even more complex. Autobiographical memory allows us to create a coherent self in relation to self-intime and self-with-other-people. We can mentally transport to past events in order to analyze them so that we can modify current or future behavior. Reminiscing allows us to evoke strong emotions of past episodes, reconnect with others who are not in our immediate proximity, share meaningful stories with others, or process emotions that we


have not yet worked through. Based on the literature, we have a good understanding of how music and autobiographical memory work separately, but we have very little understanding of how they work together or facilitate one another. As autobiographical memories are often triggered by external cues, it would be worthwhile to understand how music may act as this trigger. Physiology, Neuroanatomy and Autobiographical Memory Autobiographical memory is a form of explicit memory (also known as declarative memory). This type of memory refers to the conscious recollection of experience and facts, in which the medial temporal lobe (MTL) is crucial. Explicit memory is broken down into episodic (autobiographical episodes or memory of specific events), semantic (knowledge of facts, contents of experience, non-contextual information), and familiarity (memory of stimuli without conscious recollection). Research indicates that each of these types of memories may operate under difference processes, with different neuroanatomical parts playing different roles (Levine et al., 2004; Moscovitch, et al., 2005). So far there has been much disagreement in regards to how autobiographical memories, and memories in general, are stored in the brain. Much of this debate centers on whether or not the medial temporal lobe (MTL) and hippocampus (Hc) play a timelimited role in the storage of memories. Autobiographical memory is mainly comprised of an interactive network of temporal and prefrontal areas (Vanderkerckhove, Markowitsch, Mertens, & Woermann, 2005). The following lobes are active in the encoding or retrieval of autobiographical memories: the neocortex, prefrontal lobes (ventrolateral, dorsolateral, and anterior medial to superior), parietal lobes, temporal


lobes (medial, lateral, and anterior), the diencephalons (thalamus and hypothalamus) and, to a lesser degree, the cerebellum. Each of these areas will be examined in detail. It can be assumed, unless otherwise specified, that when discussing these regions I am referring to bilateral functioning, rather than one hemisphere. The most known area in regards to memory research is the medial temporal lobe. The aspects of the medial temporal lobe involved in autobiographical memory are the hippocampus (Hc), parahippocampus (PHc), entorhinal cortex (ER), perirhinal cortex (PR), and the mammillary bodies. Functional MRI studies demonstrate increased activation in the right temporal lobe over the left temporal lobe when individuals are recalling autobiographical memories. The right side Hc is the primary site for personal episodic memories, whereas the left side Hc is associated with personal semantic information (Levine et al., 2004). The PR and PHc have 2/3 of their cortical input into the ER, while the ER has afferent projections to the Hc. The PR, PHc, and ER also have reciprocal convergent projections from the association areas in the neocortex. Stated more clearly, the Hc has reciprocal connections to the ER, which has reciprocal connections to the PHc and PR, which have reciprocal connections to the neocortex (Squire, 1992). The mammillary bodies and thalamic connections are responsible for recollections that rely on temporal-spatial information, while the PR and other connections to the thalamus are responsible for familiarity. Direct projections from the MTL and diencephalon to the frontal cortices are important for converting memory into action. Damage to any of these connections can result in a disruption of memory functioning by a disruption in the exchange of information from the neocortex to the Hc.


The major issue with the MTL is whether or not the Hc plays a time limited role in memory consolidation and storage. Standard consolidation theory states that information coming in is first registered in the neocortex and working memory. If it is required to move to short-term or long-term storage, it is then integrated by the hippocampal complex and associated MTL and diencephalic structures where it forms a memory trace, which is eventually reorganized and stored long-term in the neocortex. A time-limited notion of the Hc is supported by lesion studies where individuals have profound anterograde amnesia and some loss of retrograde amnesia. Older memories tend to be spared, while more recent memories are unable to be retrieved and new memories cannot be formed (Squire, 1992). An fMRI study by Niki and Lou (2002) also confirms the time-limited role of the MTL in autobiographical memory. Nine right-handed participants aged 20-33 were asked to recall recent and remote memories over 5 years old. Results supported the temporal gradient for MTL, where those with MTL damage lose access to recent past memories more than remote past memories, while very remote past memories stayed intact. Moss, Kopelman, Cappelletti, de Mornay Davies, & Jaldow (2003) posit that storage from the MTL to the cortex requires roughly 18 months to 2 years, after which time long-term consolidation is achieved in the neocortex. The idea is that the neocortex supports slow, gradual learning, while the MTL is responsible for fast, one-trial learning. Nadel and Moscovitch (1997) proposed an alternative, multiple trace theory (MTT) as an alternative to the standard consolidation model. According to this theory, the hippocampal complex (and possibly the diencephalons) rapidly encodes all attended information and binds neocortical neurons that represent the experience into a memory


trace. The hippocampal complex then acts as an index to the neocortex. In this view, the MTL helps to encode, retain, and retrieve autobiographical memory regardless of how old the memories are. The MTL is needed for storage and recovery of the memory trace, with its contribution diminishing until the neocortex can sustain the memory trace and its retrieval (Moscovitch et al., 2005). Each time an old memory is retrieved, a new trace mediated by the Hc is created leading to more or stronger representations. This theory is supported in research by the authors that demonstrated that the Hc was equally active for recurrent and remote memories. Relational binding theory, although different than MTT, supports the notion that the MTL contributes to the access and retrieval of remote memories over time (Shimamura, 2002). In relational binding theory, cortical connections to the hippocampus (Hc) that exists at the time of a retrieval cue can be used as associative links to the retrieval of memories. These links act as shortcuts to new and old memories. After initial binding, the link can strengthen or decay, depending upon the frequency of the link’s activation. In this theory, the links from the MTL to the neocortex facilitate interactions with nearby cells and contribute to the retrieval of remote memories. Relational binding theory and multiple trace theory both support the idea that the MTL is always required for the retrieval of any autobiographical memory, whether it is in the remote or recent past. To resolve the role of the MTL and the temporal gradient issue of memory, Moscovitch et al. (2005) go on to propose that episodic, semantic, and familiarity all operate under different systems within the cortex. Semantic information is coded and retrieved more widespread in the cortex than autobiographical memory, leading to more


numerous and stronger connections. It is also stored separately from the episode in which it is obtained and is eventually consolidated in the neocortex, not necessarily requiring the MTL for retrieval; this type of memory can be directly retrieved from the neocortex. Autobiographical memory and spatial memory require the MTL in order to achieve successful retrieval. The authors conclude that the MTL is crucial for detailed experiencing of the past that encompasses both the experiential and spatial aspects of autobiographical memory, which is supported by Tranel & Jones (2006), who posit a similar dissociation in cortical processes for knowing when (semantic) and knowing what (episodic). Three other areas, the cingulate cortex, cerebellum, and parietal lobes have shown to play a lesser role in the retrieval of autobiographical memory. The cingulate cortex is positioned just above the Hc and has been implicated in the processing of spatial content, attentional modulation to maintain the episodic retrieval mode, and the re-experiencing of emotions during recollection of the autobiographical memory. The cerebellum has been implicated in the cognitive and emotional processing of memory, as well as participating in the initiating and monitoring of the conscious retrieval of episodic memory (Vandekerckhove et al., 2005). The parietal lobes are also associated with processing spatial information, mental imagery (where and when an event took place), and coordinating for movement (Moscovitch et al., 2005; Vandekerckhove et al., 2005). Research in autobiographical memory is shifting toward understanding the role of the frontal lobes in autobiographical recall. In another fMRI study of 16 right-handed healthy women aged 21-32 years of age, Vandekerckhove et al. (2005) found that the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPC) and


anterior medial (AMFC) to superior frontal cortices (SFC) were active during retrieval of positive, negative, stressful and neutral autobiographical episodes. The VLPC was active in maintaining the retrieval information in working memory and evaluating the events for emotional significance. The DLPC is responsible for the monitoring, operating, and verification of the retrieval representation. Finally, the AMFC and SFC were implicated in self-referential processing. Other research has supported the notion of the frontal lobes in the retrieval process of autobiographical memory (McDermott & Buckner, 2002; Wagner, 2002) Another fMRI study done by Levine et al. (2004) revealed that the frontal lobes function as control operators, processing the autobiographical narrative stream in working memory. Five healthy individuals aged 26-37 were presented with personal episodic, personal semantic, other episodic, or general semantic stimuli during fMRI scanning. Results indicated that the left VLPC, right DLPC, and right temporo-parietal regions were active during personal episodic memory. The left temporo-parietal region was active during personal semantic information. This study supports the above notion that semantic and episodic memory are processed differently, as well as providing evidence for the involvement of the frontal lobes in the retrieval of autobiographical memory. The encoding and recall of autobiographical memories are extremely intricate and complex tasks that require the interconnections between multiple anatomical systems. From the flow of information through working memory in the frontal lobes, to short- or long-term storage in the medial temporal lobes, up to long-term storage in the neocortex, multiple pathways contribute to the formation of autobiographical memories. As


complicated as the formation of these memories is, the notion of separate types of memories encoded and stored through different process and in different areas makes the physiological underpinnings to autobiographical memory even more complex. Retrieval is even more complex than encoding, involving processes in the frontal and medial temporal lobes, along with supporting functions from the parietal lobes, cingulate cortex, diencephalon, and cerebellum. The debate between the temporally graded encoding and retrieval mechanism in the MTL continues to exist, with some solace in the reconciliation that both sides are right. Proponents of the classic consolidation theory posit the MTL to play a time-limited role in the storage of memories; it operates for a short period of time until the neocortex can take over and sustain the autobiographical memories independently. Those supporting the notion of multiple trace theory (MTT), stating that the MTL is always required to retrieve autobiographical memories, point to the dissociation between episodic and semantic memory; semantic memory, that of facts and knowledge about oneself, can be consolidated much quicker in the neocortex than episodic memory, memory of personally experienced events. Regardless, further research is required to arrive at a consistent and agreeable hypothesis as to the involvement of the MTL in autobiographical memory. I will now turn to the physiological elements involved in musical processing. Physiology, Neuroanatomy and Music The origins and adaptive significance of music continue to be a mystery. Darwin could not discover or discern any adaptive purpose for music, even though it persisted in the evolutionary cycle and has existed as long as man (Hauser & McDermott, 2003). Many different areas of the brain respond to the perceptual and emotional aspects of


music and musical appreciation appears to be innate (Weinberger, 2004). Music is thought to have developed much the same as language, having a biological basis in which the brain functionally organizes music. Music is universal across cultures, although its evolutionary purpose remains a mystery. Music, unless otherwise specified, refers to nonlyrical productions, such as those most often associated with classical pieces. Lyrical music would entail the same processes as non-lyrical pieces, with the addition of specific language centers, such as Wernicke’s (semantic processing) and Broca’s (syntactical processing) area, being activated and involved (Levitin, 2006). Tonal melodies have even shown to influence nonhuman primates, further suggesting an evolutionary basis for music (Hauser & McDermott, 2003). Humans are also able to demonstrate preference for consonant versus dissonant chords by 16 weeks old! Infants are sensitive to musical properties, this being evident through our current cultural use of music in utero (Krumhansl, 2002). It seems evident, then, that music has a strong biological basis and has an adaptive purpose. Music can regulate and influence emotions, call attention from one group member to another, and communicate aggression. Humans have even demonstrated cross-cultural abilities to judge emotions elicited by music in others (Hauser & McDermott, 2003). Music must, therefore, serve a significant and highly diverse function in human existence. Once sound enters the ear and strikes the eardrum, it vibrates and amplifies the sound wave as it goes to the cochlea. Hair cells that leave the cochlea form the major part of the auditory nerve, which projects to the medulla in the lower brainstem, and synapses with either the cochlear nuclei or the superior olivary nucleus. These nerves terminate in the inferior colliculus, where two distinct pathways emerge. These two pathways go to


the dorsal and ventral mediate geniculate bodies. The ventral region projects to the primary auditory cortex, which is connected to the secondary auditory regions. The dorsal region projects directly to the secondary auditory regions (for a review, see Kolb & Whishaw, 2003). Unlike autobiographical memory, an asymmetry exists within the auditory system. Both hemispheres receive projections from each ear, but the right hemisphere is more involved in music processing, while the left hemisphere is related to language processing. Music is most closely associated with temporal lobe functioning; the left temporal lobe (LTL) mainly processes temporal resolution (speed and frequency information), while the right temporal lobe (RTL) mainly processes spectral resolution (pitch and melodic information). Most of the cortex responsible for auditory functions is located in the temporal lobe (Samson, 1999). Again, there is some overlap of functioning within each hemisphere, but the majority of musical processing takes place in the right temporal lobe (Kolb & Whishaw, 2003). Evidence also exists pointing to the role of the cerebellum in motor learning, error detection, and sensory integration in regards to musical processing (Penhune, Zatorre, & Evans, 1998). Paralimbic changes have also been documented in relation to the pleasantness of music (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). Schonwiesner, Rubsamen, & Yves von Cramon (2005) examined 19 righthanded, healthy, 22-30 year olds with a functional MRI (fMRI) in order to ascertain the locations that process complex sounds in the cerebral hemispheres. Participants were exposed to acoustic stimuli of varying temporal and spectral complexities. Results indicated that the asymmetrical processing of complex sounds does not depend upon semantic, but rather acoustic stimulus characteristics. Results demonstrated that the left


superior temporal gyrus, located on the left temporal lobe, was responsible for temporal modulation, while the right superior temporal gyrus was involved in spectral modulation. These results support the notion that the left temporal lobe processes temporal acoustic information, whereas the right temporal lobe processes the more complex melodic, pitch, and timbre information. The primary auditory cortex, also known as A1 or Brodmann’s area 41, is buried directly beneath the Sylvian fissure (separates temporal lobe from frontal and parietal lobes). The secondary auditory cortex exists directly below the primary auditory cortex on the temporal lobe. The primary auditory cortex is involved in melodic discrimination, whereas the secondary association areas are involved in the short-term retention of pitch information. Although the right temporal lobe predominates in musical perception, higher level melodic processing involves both temporal lobes (Samson, 1999). The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is also involved in the long-term retention of unfamiliar tunes. Zatorre (1999) examined the brains of 12 non-musicians using positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which provides a correlate of brain activity by measuring cerebral blood flow (CBF). The participants were exposed to noise bursts and melodies. Cerebral blood flow increased in the right superior temporal gyrus and right secondary auditory cortices while participants were exposed to melodies. The left temporal gyrus also showed increased CBF, but it was much weaker than in the right temporal lobe. The right frontal lobe also demonstrated an increase in CBF, due to its responsibility for effecting pitch comparisons and serving as an executive music function; the right frontal lobe is necessary for maintaining pitch information in working memory and monitoring tones in temporal order. The author concludes that the primary auditory cortex is


involved in early stage processing of musical stimuli (computation of pitch, duration, intensity, and spatial location), while the secondary auditory cortex is responsible for extracting temporal patterns of auditory stimuli. Alfredson, Risberg, Hagber, and Gustafson (2004) examined the role that emotionally significant music plays in right temporal lobe activation. Twelve righthanded, healthy participants with a mean age of 70 selected a piece of music that was emotionally significant to them. The significant music was then compared to standard music and silence while regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) measurements were made. Results indicate that when emotionally significant music is played, rCBF increases in the right temporal lobe (TL) and decreases in the right prefrontal cortex (PFC). The authors conclude that through the recognition of melody, “memories of facts and events linked to the emotional experience are probably evoked” (p.165). An interesting study by Schmidt and Trainor (2001) attempted to discover what role frontal brain activity played in regards to emotion. Their findings indicated that increased left frontal activity was related to joy and happiness, while right frontal activity was associated with fear and sadness. As left frontal activity increased, so did approachrelated tendencies. Also, right frontal activity decreased upon exposing a group of depressed adolescents to rock music. Finally, increased overall frontal activity led to increased overall intensity of emotional experiences of any kind. It may be possible, then, to select specific types of music to induce or enhance certain types of emotional experience via the increase in localized brain activity. Comparisons are often made between speech and music processing, as they are both composed of sequential events in time (temporal patterns), operate under rule-based


systems, are indigenous to humans, and require specific knowledge (Besson, 1999; Penhune, Zatorre, & Evans, 1998). The main difference is that in speech, an individual engages in semantic processing in order to access the meaning of what is being said, whereas in music an individual engages in melodic and harmonic processing, which supports the notion of the left temporal lobe’s specialization in speech perception and temporal perception for rhythmic stimuli, whereas the right temporal lobe is involved in processing more complex acoustic stimuli (Penhune, Zatorre, & Evans, 1998). It could be assumed, then, that lyrical pieces would actively engage both temporal lobes in the processing of both complex auditory and speech-related information. I find that music serves numerous evolutionary purposes. For example, an individual who becomes depressed will tend to isolate themselves from others, which is not adaptive and this individual may eventually perish alone. Through the use of music the individual could regulate negative affect and engage in approach-related behaviors, which is due to the fact that adults who are more social have increased frontal brain activity. Music facilitates frontal activity, possibly also facilitating pro-social behavior (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). The individual can rejoin society and has successfully enhanced his or her chances for survival. Although not as complex as autobiographical memory encoding and retrieval, musical processing is complex in its own way. Musical processing involves numerous areas of the brain, much like autobiographical memory. The right and left temporal lobes are the home of the primary auditory cortices, with the right playing a much bigger role than the left. The auditory association areas are also located in the temporal lobes and play a role in pitch processing. The frontal lobes are involved in the affective processing


of musical information, while the cerebellum works to integrate acoustic sensory information. The medial temporal lobes (MTL) are also involved in long-term memory of specific melodies. As with autobiographical memory, many distinct brain regions contribute to the perception and processing of musical stimuli. Affective Components of Autobiographical Memory It is without question that remembering episodes from our past can elicit strong emotions within us. A prime source of our security and self-esteem arise from our autobiographical memories (Foster & Valentine, 2001). Autobiographical memories are often triggered by external cues, such as sights, sounds and particular episodic experiences. These memories can also be triggered by other autobiographical memories, creating a chain of events that can be linked together. As we remember these situations, the emotions that accompanied them are often present and are often the triggers for further elaboration and vividness. Reminiscing provides us with the opportunity to travel back into our past, a past where we remember specific events and episodes that may have evoked strong emotions within us. Our personality, as well as our age, influences the way we remember past episodes. Alea, Bluck, and Semegon (2004) state that “[m]uch of our emotional experience in everyday life is related to remembered events and experience” (p.248). They explain emotions as existing on two levels: the valence, or specific type, of emotion (i.e. sad, angry, anxious, fearful, etc.) and the intensity, or overall arousal level, of the emotion. The valence of emotion consists of the frequency of experiencing positive or negative emotions, as well as the frequency of experiencing discrete emotions themselves. The intensity consists of the overall, or general, intensity of the emotion, as well as the


specific intensity of the discrete emotion. The above authors conducted a study in which they examined the impact that autobiographical memories had on older and younger adults. Fifty-six younger adults and 37 older adults were asked to recall the outcome of the O.J. Simpson trial according to their personal memory of their own reactions before, during and after the verdict, as well as to report the events on television before, during and after the verdict. They then reported their intensity and frequency of emotions related to the event. The results indicated that the older adults had increased salience of emotional experience, focused on negative emotions, and experienced them with more intensity. A specific event may not have had the emotional valence or intensity required to bring out a reaction among the younger cohort. The authors stated that autobiographical remembering can be a means of emotional expression and it is possible to use autobiographical memory to assess emotions. A study conducted by Kennedy, Mather, and Carstensen (2004) found a positivity effect in older adults who remembered past events. A positivity effect refers to the bias of remembering past events more emotionally positive or satisfying. In 1987, the authors gave a questionnaire to 862 nuns that required the participants to report autobiographical information. An emotional questionnaire also accompanied the biographical questionnaire. Fourteen years later, 300 nuns were contacted and randomly assigned to an accuracy-focused, emotionally-focused, or control condition. The accuracy-focused condition consisted of a questionnaire that prompted the participants to try and remember the autobiographical events as accurately as possible; the emotionally-focused condition prompted the participants on how they were feeling while answering the questions; and the control condition asked the participants to answer the questions as they did 14 years


earlier. Results indicated that those who were focused on mood showed more positive and less negative moods than their accuracy counterparts. The data was then analyzed comparing the youngest controls versus the oldest controls. The authors concluded that older adults remember past events more emotionally positive compared to younger adults. They explain that this is due to older adults’ motivation to regulate their current emotional experience, especially in a positive manner. Another study conducted by Comblain, D’Argembeau, and Van der Linden (2005) examined the phenomenal characteristics of autobiographical memories for emotional and neutral events in older and younger adults. Forty younger adults (ages 1731) and forty older adults (ages 59-71) were given a questionnaire in which they were to recall 6 personal experiences in the past 5 years that were at least 6 months old. Two of the memories were to be positive, two negative, and two neutral in emotional valence. Results indicated that positive and negative events were reported more vividly and had more detail than neutral events, and were equal in vividness when compared to each other. The ability to recall spatial locations of objects and people was highest for positive and negative events. Interestingly, the storylines were more complex for negative events. Older adults tended to remember events more positively and the authors conclude that this is due to the older adults’ increased ability to regulate their emotional states. These results could also point to the fact that older adults are more distanced from their memories, have memories with less detail, and may have a positive bias. The authors also concluded that younger adults may extract more negative information from negative events in order to handle them better in the future, which supports the notion that


autobiographical memories that are high in emotion serve to inform our present situation and can lead to the modification of behavior in the here-and-now. Memories that are close or more recent have an increased emotional connection, which is especially true for young people, allowing for an increased connection with one’s past. Positive or negative emotional meaning can influence the phenomenal characteristics of autobiographical memory, leading to increased sensory and contextual details compared to those that are neutral. From the above study, it can be seen that, although the phenomenal characteristics of autobiographical memories may be similar in younger and older adults, older adults tend to reappraise negative events in a positive light. The authors concluded that emotional well being tends to remain stable and may even enhance with ageing. Older adults are also more likely to focus on the emotional aspects of autobiographical memories, especially since the positive emotions tend to be more valued with age (Comblain et al., 2005). Cue words have been demonstrated to be effective in generating autobiographical memories of specific episodes. Andersson, Boethius, Svirsky, and Carlberg (2006) examined the ability of cue words to elicit autobiographical memory in 31 psychotherapists, 10 teachers of the disabled and 9 music therapists. Four cue words were presented (ashamed, elated, irritating, loving) and participants were asked to recall episodes from therapy and rate importance of the episode on the outcome of therapy. Results indicated that the cue words increased the specificity of recalled episodes and those events associated with the cue words loving, irritating, and elated were more important in the outcome of therapy. The authors concluded that positive autobiographical memories are easier to recall and have more vivid details than neutral or


negative memories. It is important to note that this finding may stand true for adults and older adults, but contradicts the Comblain et al., study. Regardless, as the emotional valence increases, the emotional episodes are more likely to stand out and be remembered more vividly, supporting the idea of using external cues to elicit autobiographical memories. Personality style also impacts the encoding and access to personal memories. Dickson & Bates (2005) examined autobiographical retrieval of 166 undergraduate students with different personality styles. The participants were given anxiety, depression and social measures and then performed an autobiographical memory and a future event task. The authors then selected words from each participant’s autobiographical memory and future event task for cues. Once presented with the cues, the participants were to give a written response to the cues. Results indicated that those who had a repressive personality style selectively accessed personal memories and future events that were relatively free of unpleasant or painful experiences. The authors concluded that the encoding of an aversive situation may be less elaborate in this personality style, due to decreased associational links that can disrupt retrieval of specific events. It could also be postulated that the links are present, just inaccessible. It may be possible, through the use of some other external stimuli, to stimulate these connections and allow for the processing and reorganization of the experience. Autobiographical memories are often recalled in accordance with their valence and intensity of emotion. Recent autobiographical events have a stronger emotional connection and it is often easier to associate the accompanying emotions with a more recent episode. Results of autobiographical memories, emotion, and ageing are mixed,


with some stating that older adults tend to reminisce in a positive manner, while others show that this is just the opposite. Older adults tend to focus on the emotional aspects of memories and may tend to remember events in a positive light. Younger adults tend to remember more negative events; this may serve to alter behavior in the future. Personality style may influence the ability to recall autobiographical memories, as those with repressive styles tend to not remember aversive situations. Finally, the use of cue words has demonstrated a unique ability to elicit autobiographical memories. Affective Components of Music Emotions are an important determinant in the neuronal activation of music. Emotionally arousing music can decrease the frequency of agitated behavior, encourage those with movement disorders to move and increase overall self-esteem (Alfredson et al., 2004). Music and emotion, as well as music and speech, play a vital role in early emotional communication. Each person has their own sensitivity level to music and the experience of pleasure from music is result of how it changes as a function of time (Jeong, Joung, & Kim, 1998). Music has demonstrated an ability to increase the sleep quality in older adults with sleep-related complaints through its relaxing qualities (Lai & Good, 2005). Music has even demonstrated an ability to trigger peak experiences in many individuals (Lowis, 2002). I will now turn to how music works to elicit its mood altering qualities. We have already discussed how positive, fearful and sad music can increase left and right frontal lobe activity, respectively (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). Music also has a profound impact on our autonomic nervous system. When music is experienced as sad, large changes have been documented in heart rate, blood pressure, skin conductance, and


temperature. Music that is experienced as fearful elicits its largest change in blood transit time and amplitude. Finally, music that is experienced as happy elicits a large change in respiration. Schmidt and Trainor (2001) stated that “music is known to be a powerful elicitor of emotion” (p.491). Music has the ability to alter both the valence and intensity of emotional experience. The cortex is a highly nonlinear, chaotic system. Distinct cortical states have distinct chaotic dynamics. Jeong, Joung, & Kim (1998) examined the way in which the emotional responses to music are reflected in the electrical activities of the cortex. Ten participants ages 7-26 were presented with different sequences (Hertz) of musical notes (flat, somewhat variable, extremely variable) while an electroencephalogram (EEG) measured the activity in their brains. Results indicated that music is aesthetically interesting if it has a balanced mixture between recognition and surprise. Musical sequences that are flat and easily learned become boring, while those that are unpredictable and extremely variable are irritating. Rhythmic variations were found to contribute to the positive response to music more so than melodic variations. As pleasure resulting from the music increased, electrical chaos in the brain decreased. The synchrony of music that evokes pleasure may also be said to sync the brain. Tempo has been shown to influence the arousal dimension of mood. In a series of studies, Balch & Lewis (1996) examined the influence that tempo (fast or slow), type of music (classical or jazz), recall context (same context, different tempo, different type of music), and timbre (brass or piano) had on mood. The first experiment consisted of 168 undergraduate students who were presented a list of words under a specific condition (tempo, type of music, recall context), presented distraction music, and then alternated


the condition at recall. The second experiment consisted of 128 undergraduate students who underwent the same procedure, with the context condition eliminated and a timbre condition added. The third experiment examined 64 undergraduate students under the same procedure as experiment 2, with the participants rating their mood on valence and intensity. Finally, the fourth experiment examined 48 undergraduate students with the same procedure as experiment 2, this time using only the brass timbre and alternating the tempo. Results indicate that tempo alone has the ability to impact the arousal, or intensity, level of mood. Individuals who were exposed to fast tempo experienced an increase in arousal. The authors concluded the series of studies by also stating that “old songs bring back associated memories” (p.1362). It may be the intensity component of mood that may be responsible for triggering autobiographical memories. Alternately, it may be music’s ability to influence both the intensity and valence components of mood that leads to the triggering of autobiographical memories. More studies examining music, mood, and autobiographical memories are necessary to understand this complex relationship. Lai & Good (2005) investigated the impact that music had on sleep-related problems in older adults. Sixty older adults, ages 60-83, were given a choice between 6 types of sedative music. Each participant then listened to the sedative music for 45 minutes at bedtime for 3 weeks. Results indicated increases in global sleep quality and individual components (perceived sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep efficiency, and decreased daytime dysfunction) of sleep quality. The authors attribute the increases in sleep quality to the relaxation induced by the music which ultimately reduced circulating noradrenaline in the body.


Peak experiences, often associated with Abraham Maslow (1962), refer to experiences that cause perceptions of absorption with the environment, being “one” with the environment, total involvement, or “flow” of being. A study pertaining to peak experiences by Lowis (2002) examined 102 staff members from a university. Participants filled out a series of questionnaires examining musical involvement and reactions to music. There were no significant differences as to demographics of gender, age, or education. Peak experiences are associated with strong physical and emotional reaction, accompanied by a cognitive appraisal of the music or situation. Music is the most frequently cited antecedent to peak experiences, with the overall reaction being that music reminded individuals of things from the past. The author concluded that music and memory are often associated by earlier experiences and the music that accompanied them. Music could act as a trigger to a past experience, eliciting emotions or vivid experiences that were originally associated with a specific song or style of music. Music has the ability to elicit a wide range of emotions through various affective and physiological mechanisms. It can alter the autonomic nervous system, changing heart rate, blood pressure, skin conductance, and respirations. Music that is balanced in complexity can evoke strong feelings of well-being and happiness, while music that is too complex or not complex enough can be irritating or boring. The tempo of the musical piece influences the arousal dimension of mood, possibly intensifying or reducing a preexisting emotional state. Music has the ability to trigger peak experiences in people, mainly by evoking memories of the past. Finally, music has demonstrated its ability to work as a sedative in older adults who were experiencing sleep problems. Music has a


profound impact on our affective states, having the ability to arouse us for better or worse. Cognitive Components of Autobiographical Memory If it has not already, it will become evident that the physiological, affective and cognitive processes of autobiographical memory overlap. The physiological substratum provides the basis in which the affective and cognitive components come to be. The cognitive components are often interrelated with, or dependent upon, the affective components. The purpose of this section is to provide an overview and critique of some of the literature that is more focused on the cognitive components of autobiographical memory. By the end, it will be evident that, although the cognitive components can be described in isolation from the affective and physiological components, it is almost impossible to abstract them from their counterparts. A commonly known model in cognitive psychology and science, as well as neuroscience, is that of connectionism. In the early 20th century, Edward Thorndike was conducting experiments on learning that posited a connectionist type network. Thorndike’s work was heavily debated at the time, mainly by Edward Tolman (Tolman, 1936). During the 1940s and 1950s, this model was also advocated by researchers such as Donald Hebb and Karl Lashley. I will now provide a brief overview of the common connectionist model. The central principle in connectionism is that mental phenomena can be described by simple units that form interconnected networks. Connections and units can differ from model to model. Some units could represent neurons (connections are then synapses), while other units could be single pieces of information, such as a word, and each


connection could be an indication of phonetic similarity. In regards to this particular dissertation, I will focus on units representing neurons (or groups of neurons) and connections representing synapses (or groups of synapses). Networks of neurons change over time. Spreading activation refers to the unit’s activation spreading to all other units connected to it. The more frequent a connection is activated, the stronger this connection gets and the greater the likelihood it will spread to adjacent connections, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of activation of more and more networks within the unit. Basically, the unit and the connection represent a basic stimulus-response (S-R) relationship, with the addition of spreading activation that allows for more complex and continuous connections throughout the network. One of the problems often associated with connectionism is that of activation and inhibition. If spreading activation does occur and the cortex is entirely interconnected, than what is to stop a stimulus from setting off activation of the entire cortex? Raffone & van Leeuwen (2001) propose a synchronization model of connectionism and spreading activation. These authors state that the synchrony between two neurons is a transitive relationship, that is, if B’s firing is synchronized to A’s firing, then A’s firing is also synchronized to B’s firing. The model posits a bidirectional excitational connection between neurons with inhibitory connections between nodes that are mutually exclusive. The notion of temporal coding also plays a role, as action potentials of neurons coding the features of the same object are synchronized, while being actively desynchronized from neurons coding features of other objects. In sum, synchronization of specific neurons or sets of neurons, along with inhibitory connections between these sets, allows for spreading activation that does not infiltrate the entire cortex, which could explain how


autobiographical memories are represented as specific temporal episodes that begin (activation), unfold (spreading activation), and end (inhibition). It could also account for the triggering of related episodes when remembering a single autobiographical memory. Long-term potentiation (LTP) also influences the ways in which connections (synapses) are made between neurons (units). Long-term potentiation states that if a presynaptic neuron is stimulated and fires, and the synapse is active when the post-synaptic neuron is active, the synapse will be strengthened (Gazzaniga, Ivry, & Mangun, 1998). Later stimulus will increase the post-synaptic responses. The aforementioned is true if more than one input is active at the same time (cooperativity), weaker inputs are potentiated when co-occurring with stronger inputs (association), and only the stimulated synapse shows potentiation (specificity), which is in agreement with basic connectionistic principles and is also in line with the connectionist theory of Raffone & Van Leeuwen above. Involuntary recall of autobiographical memories occurs routinely throughout the day. These memories are often triggered by external cues in our environment, such as language, sensory or perceptual experiences, activities or actions and specific moods or bodily states (Mace, 2005). Thoughts, which are internal cues, are also capable of triggering autobiographical memories. These internal or external cues prime the retrieval of autobiographical memories. Mace (2005) goes on to state that thinking “about the past could cause spreading activation to occur throughout a network of related memories” (p.875). As the activation is more frequent over time, it becomes stronger, and more autobiographical memories can come into conscious awareness. A series of studies conducted by the above author examined the impact of cues on autobiographical memory


in 16 university faculty, staff and undergraduate students. Participants wrote in a diary in which they were to note the memory, date, retrieval cue, thoughts prior to the memory, and activity prior to the memory. Results indicated that 92% of the memories reported had identifiable cues. Thirty percent of the memories were preceded by a thought, 31% by speech, 27% by sensory or perceptual experiences, and 4% by mood or bodily experiences. The author concludes that retrieval is not entirely random and that there is most likely an associative priming effect from external or internal cues in regards to autobiographical memories. Autobiographical memories often become reorganized or even fictionalized to fit schema, or framework, demands. The temporal, spatial, and causal schema in which a memory is recalled can have a significant impact on the output of an autobiographical memory. Radvansky, Copeland, & Zwaan (2005) investigated the structure of narrative and autobiographical memories in 24 undergraduate students. Participants read a book and were then submitted to a recall test and a recognition test. In the recall condition, 10 episodes were asked to be recalled forward, backward, or from a central point. In the recognition test, participants had to discern 3 incorrect and 3 correct details from the original 10 episodes. Results indicated that the temporal sequence of events is important, as individuals recalled episodes much faster in the forward recall condition and supports the notion of spreading activation, as remembering a single episode from the starting point tends to initiate a cascade that unfolds the event until its end. Cognitive control processes that modulate the construction of autobiographical memories rely on underlying physiological processes and neuroanatomical regions. Conway, et al. (1999) examined the PET scans of 6 young, healthy, right-handed


individuals under a rest condition, paired association recall task, and a recent (12 mo) and remote (15 years or older) autobiographical memory task. Results indicated that the left frontal lobe was active in both autobiographical conditions, while the hippocampus was active in all conditions. Activation shifted from the left frontal lobe to the right frontal, temporal, and occipital lobes once the memory was retrieved. The authors set forth two different mechanisms in the retrieval of autobiographical memories. Generative retrieval requires a retrieval template in which the search process is provided with increasingly more elaborate or specific cues that focus or localize the activation. A stable pattern of activation is eventually achieved. Direct retrieval occurs when a single cue leads to the activation of a single item that spreads to associated events and lifetime period. They concluded that generative retrieval is processed in the left frontal lobe, whereas direct retrieval occurs in the right frontal, temporal and occipital lobes. Generative retrieval begins in the left frontal lobe when recalling an autobiographical memory; once this memory is recalled, the right frontal, temporal and occipital lobes maintain the memory. The authors mention that the role of the left frontal lobe is that of the “working self”. The working self is responsible for part of the cognitive control process in autobiographical memory. The goals of the self play a role in the encoding and retrieval of autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memories that are high in self-relevance at encoding are easier to retrieve. Memories are often remembered in accordance with our working-self’s current goals. Conway and Holmes (2004) examined the relationship between autobiographical memories and Erikson’s psychosocial stages. Fifty participants, ages 62-89, wrote autobiographical memories in 7 decade increments (0-9, 10-19, etc. up to


60+). These memories were then coded according to Erikson’s psychosocial stages. Results indicated that autobiographical memories were related to the psychosocial stages, while memory for events during the ages of 10-30 accounted for over 35% of the memories. The authors attribute this to the abundance of self-relevant events during this time period, as well as the development of an enduring and stable sense of self. The authors also concluded that the goals of the working self mediate the encoding of new experiences and when a goal is active in the working self, it influences how and what information is retained. Current goals can therefore selectively trigger specific autobiographical memories, making one’s current situation a potential trigger for autobiographical memories. It is also important to realize that the individual’s current notion of their self will impact how they retrieve and perceive their past memories. Autobiographical memory is an interaction of personal temporality, self-agency, self-reflection and self-ownership (Klein, German, Cosmides, & Gabriel, 2004). We transform our memorial representations of our self into autobiographical memories. The self is constructed out of the memories of past experience, the ability to recall these experiences and one’s present self-awareness. The above authors also stated that the capacity for self-reflection, sense of personal agency and ability to think of time as unfolding are all necessary cognitive components in order to achieve episodic retrieval. Individual differences in cognitive style, age, personality and overall functioning can impact the accurate retrieval of autobiographical memories. Autobiographical memories can vary each time they are recalled, especially for episodes that are not frequently rehearsed. Anderson, Cohen, & Taylor (2000) investigated the variability of autobiographical memories in a series of experiments that examined the effects of age,


the age of the memory and the memory characteristics. Results indicated that older memories are more schematized with less detail, therefore increasing their stability over time. Older adults had more stable recollections, while younger adults had more specific details. The authors concluded that older adults tend to access precompiled and reproduced memories, whereas their younger counterparts engage in a slower, more dynamic process in which memories are constructed at the time of retrieval, which could also explain why current goals influence autobiographical memories so much, especially for younger adults who are in specific psychosocial stages that pull for goal completion. The theory of connectionism, along with associative priming, spreading activation, temporal coding, and long-term potentiation, provides an excellent cognitive model for explaining the processes of autobiographical encoding and retrieval. Cognitive control processes, mediated by the frontal lobes, engage and sustain autobiographical retrieval mechanisms. The stability of autobiographical memories over time depends upon numerous factors related to age of the person, age of the memory, motivation for the memory and the interaction of current goals with past memories. It is clear that, although autobiographical memory can be conceptualized from a purely cognitive standpoint, there are many underlying physiological and affective components that contribute to the richness of autobiographical encoding and retrieval. Cognitive Components of Music As with autobiographical memory, the cognitive components of music are often interrelated with the affective components. It is often the case that the affective components mediate the cognitive components; music influences one’s arousal level according to how they feel, which impacts the ability to engage in specific cognitive


processes. Music is one of the most complex cognitive functions (Zatorre, 1999). Personality factors, such as being introverted or extraverted, affect the ability engage in cognitive tasks while music is present. Music has been demonstrated as an effective component in the treatment of cognitive impairments and stroke, often seen as a means to facilitate cognitive processes. Individuals who are highly involved with music, or are musicians, tend to show increase brain volume in specific regions of the cortex, suggesting that music can facilitate plasticity and increase synaptic connections throughout the brain. Finally, music can be a mnemonic or associational device that can facilitate, or trigger, recall of other information stored in the cortex. Introverts and extraverts show a differential preference for music, especially in relation to performing cognitive tasks while music is playing. Furnham & Bradley (1997) investigated 20 undergraduate students (10 extraverts, 10 introverts) under quiet and music conditions while taking a memory test and a reading comprehension test. Results indicated that immediate recall was no different between the two personality types and both performed marginally lower under the music condition. Overall, introverts were affected more by the music condition and performed worse than extraverts. The authors conclude that music is more of a distraction, than a facilitator, on cognitive tasks and that it’s most notable impact is seen in attention and recall of information (this is especially true for introverts, due to their presumed lower level of optimal arousal). It may be plausible, under the right musical stimulus conditions, that music could facilitate these processes as well. Individuals who are performing rather mundane or boring tasks may benefit from the extra musical stimulus in the background. Music could raise their arousal


level into a more optimal range and enhance their attention to the task at hand (Olivers & Nieuwenhuis, 2005). The rhythm or melody of music is one of its most recognized and notable qualities, which is interesting, as our speech patterns and other activity patterns, such as walking, working, or even our hobbies, are often performed in a methodical and rhythmical manner. Schauer & Mauritz (2003) decided to investigate the application of music to stroke rehabilitation. Twenty-three stroke patients were equipped with sensory insoles in their shoes that detected the ground contact of their heels. The shoes were hooked up to a portable digital music player. These participants underwent musical motor feedback (MMF) training 5 days a week, 20 minutes a day, for 5 sessions. Each time their heel would hit the ground, they would receive musical feedback through headphones. Results indicated that MMF increased overall stride execution by acting as an external synchrony cue. The authors conclude that rhythmic music enhances gait training in stroke patients by replacing the patient’s pace information with movement feedback information in a musical context (the patients adapted their gait to the interval between musical beats). This finding is also interesting in that the majority of stroke patients were affected on their left side, resulting in right side weakness, which suggests that both hemispheres, via the corpus collosum, are able to reorganize with the aid of musical stimuli. Music is often combined with pre-existing forms of treatment to add as an adjunct or secondary treatment. Capodieci, Pinelli, Zara, Gamberini, & Riva (2001) examined the use of music along with virtual reality in the rehabilitation of cognitive processes and functional abilities. A 65-year-old female who was experiencing increasing difficulty in memory-related cognitive processes was provided with virtual reality experiences alone,


as well as those with music. She would listen to stories, alternated with virtual reality experiences for two weeks. After this, she was exposed to stories with background music, as well as virtual reality with background music. Results indicated that she showed an improved clinical condition that was confirmed by her performance of various neuropsychological tests. She was also able to maintain these results at 3-month followup. The large drawback of this study is that it is unclear whether or not music alone facilitated the enhancement of her cognitive functioning. The music and virtual reality are confounded in this particular experiment. Further research comparing music and virtual reality in cognitive rehabilitation are needed in order to discern the effectiveness each has. Individuals suffering from dementia often complain of numerous cognitive problems, especially those involving memory. The biggest obstacle faced by individuals with dementia is the inability to learn new things, especially new episodic memories. Foster & Valentine (2001) investigated the role that music plays in autobiographical recall in individuals suffering from dementia. Twenty-nine participants with dementia were asked to answer autobiographical memory questions from three life eras (remote, medium-remote, and recent) in familiar music, novel music, cafeteria noise and quite conditions. Results indicated that recall was better in all three sound conditions, especially for familiar music, compared to the quite condition, and older memories were remembered best. The authors concluded that music can act as a stimulant or tranquilizer, as well as increase social activity, mood and autobiographical recall. They attributed this to the ability of music to facilitate arousal or attention and operate as an associative facilitator of autobiographical memories.


Many of our schools use melody as a context for learning other material. We have songs for the alphabet, songs to remember the 50 states and even songs to remember body parts. Wallace (1994) examined the role that melody plays in learning and recall of information. Sixty-four undergraduate students were exposed to 3-verse ballads, either sung or spoken for 1, 2, and 5 repetitions. The participants were then asked to recall the words two minutes after completion of the sung or spoken condition. Results indicated that verbatim recall of the words increased in the sung condition. The author concluded that melody acts as a context that can facilitate the recall of information accompanying it. Music chunks words and phrases, identifies line lengths, identifies stress patterns in speech and adds emphasis. The author also concluded that melody and text may cue each other, acting as an associative network, and could be the case for melody and autobiographical memory as well. The type of music, as well as the personality of the individual, also impacts cognitive task performance. Hallam, Price, & Katsarou (2002) investigated the impact calm, arousing, and no music had on 10-12 year olds’ performance on arithmetic and memory tasks. Thirty participants were exposed to quiet, arousing/aggressive, or calm music while they completed math problems or recalled words from a sentence. Results indicated that calm and relaxing music increased the number of math problems completed and amount of material remembered. The authors also had the participants read story excerpts and choose an ending, either altruistic or aggressive. Participants listening to calm music demonstrated more pro-social behavior than those listening to arousing or aggressive music. It is possible that specific music could be used as a means to promote desired behaviors, as well as enhance cognitive performance. The authors conclude that


music mediates arousal and mood rather than cognition directly and attests to the close and often inseparable relationship between affect and cognition in regards to musical processing. Radio and television commercials are almost always accompanied by background music. Commercials today often utilize music, either in the form of a song or an artist, as the main selling point of a product. Yalch (1991) examined the impact that music has on memory in 103 undergraduate students. Half of the participants were presented with slogans and music, while the other half was exposed only to the slogans. Results indicated that those participants exposed to music had better memory for the slogans. The author concluded that music can act as a mnemonic aid that creates an elaborate network of associations that facilitate memory retrieval, while also accelerating the learning process. It does seem that music can act as a facilitator, rather than a distractor, under certain conditions and with certain types of people. Musicians and non-musicians process musical information, such as contour and interval, automatically in the auditory cortex. Fujioka, Trainor, Ross, Kakigi, & Pantev (2004) investigated the differences between 12 trained musicians and 12 non-musicians ability to detect contour and interval information on magnetic encephalogram (MEG) measures. Results indicated that musical training increases the ability to automatically register abstract changes in the pitch structure of melodies. The authors attribute this ability to the increased size of the corpus collosum in musicians, stating that musical involvement can increase the overall use of the brain. These results also point to the plastic changes that occur in the brains of those musically involved in regards to increased musical perception and overall performance. It seems that those with enhanced


involvement with music, especially trained musicians, have increased connections within the cortex and process music differently than the average person. Music tends to facilitate cognitive processes, such as memory and attention, rather than affecting them directly. The type of music, as well as the personality factors of the individual themselves, play a role in just how well music can facilitate cognitive processes. Music has demonstrated its ability as an enhancement to the treatment of stroke and other cognitive impairments, most often as an adjunctive agent. Musically involved individuals, especially those formally trained, show increases in the brain volume of specific areas, suggesting that music can aid in neural plasticity and overall cortical connection. Finally, music can act either as a context or a mnemonic device, creating a rich associative network with other pieces of information.

Music and autobiographical memory are dependent upon a physiological and neuroanatomical substratum that gives rise to affective and cognitive components that characterize each. Through the interaction of numerous cortical regions, we are able to engage in the encoding and retrieval of autobiographical memory. The same can be said for musical processing. The temporal and frontal lobes play a major role in the perception and representation of both, especially in the right hemisphere of the brain. Both music and autobiographical memory are capable of triggering strong emotions, which can lead to further recall of associated autobiographical memories. Music can act as a context or a cue that aids in, or triggers, the retrieval of many types of memories. Autobiographical memory encoding and recall is often characterized by complex and intricate cognitive mechanisms, whereas music operates as more of a facilitator of these processes. Although


there are noticeable differences, much is shared in the anatomy, affective quality, and cognitive processes in both music and autobiographical memory. It is from these similarities that I will now turn in attempts to explain how music facilitates autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memories play an integral part in the development and conceptualization of who we are. These memories allow us to define ourselves in time, in relation to each other and in relation to existence itself. We can alter our current and future courses of action by understanding our past. Our autobiographical memories hold a plethora of information regarding not only who we were, but how we thought and felt about ourselves and others. Music is inextricably tied to autobiographical memory; it is often a song that is associated with a specific event or time in our lives that makes the memory salient. Music can also evoke strong emotions that we associate with a specific episode or situation in our lives. It is possibly through this associative mechanism that music can trigger memories and emotions which allow us to connect with who we were, how we related to others and what was occurring in our lives at the time. Through a better ability to access our past, we can open up channels that allow us a better understanding of our past. By understanding our past we can understand who we are today, while we aspire to be who we will be in the future.


CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY The tasks to be accomplished in this dissertation include a thorough review of the literature pertaining to music and autobiographical memory separately, as well as literature that examines them together. The literature review, more specifically, will focus on the cognitive, affective, and physiological processes and theories underlying autobiographical memory; the cognitive, affective, and physiological processes and theories underlying music; and the cognitive, affective, and physiological processes that music and autobiographical memory share. The ongoing review will be based on searches using the following EBSCO databases: PsychINFO, PsychARTICLES, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, Academic Search Premier, SocIndex, and PsycEXTRA. The review will also include searches using the following OCLC FirstSearch Database: MEDLINE. Searches will be conducted using the Boolean ‘and’ command with ‘autobiographical memory’ respectively with ‘music’, ‘affect’, ‘emotion’, ‘cognition’, and ‘physiology’. Next, searches will be conducted using the Boolean ‘and’ command with ‘music’ respectively with ‘affect’, ‘emotion’, ‘cognition’, ‘physiology’ and ‘memory.’ Finally, searches will be conducted with the words ‘connectionism’, ‘associationism’, ‘neural networking’, and ‘parallel distributed processing’. I intend to keep an ongoing journal of ideas that arise in development of the theory of how music has the potential to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory. I will carry around a pocket journal in order to write ideas as they arise; these entries will


then be transcribed into a word processing document with added comments and thoughts regarding the initial entry. I will also take notes and critique the ongoing literature review; these notes and critique of the articles will also be transcribed into the word processing document with subsequent comments and thoughts. Date and time of entry will be noted for each entry. Finally, a separate “music” journal will be kept in which I will listen to individual pieces of music, followed by a written account of autobiographical memory (or memories), as well as any other thoughts, that result from this. The artist, genre, and name of song will be recorded on the paper; I will rate the valence (i.e. anger, sadness, joy, etc.) and intensity (high, medium, low) of my emotion(s) before listening to the music, then listen to the song, with a journal record of my thoughts and emotions after listening to the specific piece of music. Date and time of entry will also be recorded for each entry. In conclusion, a theory of how music can elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory will be developed through continuous journaling of my thoughts on the topic, notes and critique of literature pertaining to the topic, and a music journal in which I listen to specific pieces of music and journal the thoughts and emotions which follow. These journals, in combination with ongoing review of pertinent literature, will provide the basis for a theory of how music can elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory.


CHAPTER IV MUSIC AND ITS ELICITATION AND FACILITATION OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY: A COMPREHENSIVE THEORY Overview The vast majority of research in the fields of memory, as well as music, focus on domain-specific inquiries; most memory research examines the processes involved in consolidation, storage, and retrieval of memory, whereas music research mainly focuses on the perceptual and subsequent affective or cognitive processes elicited by musical stimuli. The present theory attempts to delineate not only how music can elicit, as well as facilitate, autobiographical memories, but also to provide a comprehensive conceptual framework that unites physiological, cognitive, and affective processes involved therein. Memories can be triggered by internal or external stimuli and it is often these same “triggers” that set the retrieval and elaboration process in motion. Music operates as an external stimulus that can elicit retrieval, and can also be a continuous stimulus that facilitates the unfolding and enrichment of autobiographical data. In this sense, music acts firstly as a trigger for memories and secondly as a facilitating construct which provides context upon which further details and elaboration can be added to an elicited memory. No debates exist as to the physiological underpinnings required for the ability to engage in human remembering or musical perception; various physical and neurological systems are involved in these two aspects of human experience. Damage to, or defects in,


specific areas involved in the perception of music or the recall of memories can render an individual with distorted auditory perception or dysfunction in their ability to recall specific episodes from their life. As music is the initial trigger in the present theory, the processes involved must first come from our previous experiences and preferences. I will begin, therefore, by examining the roles arousal levels, as well as individual differences, play in selecting the types of music we enjoy. I will then discuss the importance of familiarity in relation to musical stimulus. Familiarity plays a role in how much we enjoy a particular piece of music and how often we will listen to this type of music, which can lead to the eventual elicitation of autobiographical memories. Once the roles of arousal levels, individual differences, and familiarity are clear in the elicitation process, the next step is to discuss how music can facilitate the cued memory and act as a context for the memory. Music not only acts as the original stimulus, triggering a memory, but also as the continued stimulus that provides the ground on which a memory is dynamically recalled and reconstructed. The roles of the physiological memory systems of the brain, as well as those involved in music processing, will be discussed along with the cognitive and affective processes that result from, and run simultaneously with, the physical brain. In addition, I will provide a step by step outline that will delineate a concise and comprehensive summary of the entire theory. Arousal Levels and Individual Differences Individual differences in regards to music cannot be overlooked; each individual has specific preferences and different arousal thresholds that influence what types of stimuli they are drawn to. Arousal is the dimension of mood often associated with the


autonomic nervous system (ANS), the part of the nervous system that is largely out of conscious awareness. Music has the ability to alter our autonomic nervous system, changing our heart rate, blood pressure, and respirations, which we then make a cognitive appraisal of, and often label with, an affective state (valence dimension of mood). To highlight this particular section, I will be focusing on the influences of the YerkesDodson Law in regards to the impact of arousal on performance, as well as the work of Hans J. Eysenck in regards to the personality factors of introversion and extraversion. I will briefly explain what each particular component consists of, eventually expanding upon their application to musical listening and the ability of particular types of music to elicit and, if optimal criteria are met, facilitate autobiographical memory. The basic principle of the Yerkes-Dodson (1908) law is that performance and arousal are empirically related to the point that performance on a particular task is enhanced with cognitive arousal, but only to a certain degree. As arousal increases past a certain degree, performance actually worsens. On simple tasks, the law is represented in a linear fashion, with arousal enhancing performance (grey line), but on more complex tasks, the law is represented graphically by an inverted-U shape curve (Figure 1).


Figure 1. Performance as a function of optimal arousal. The straight line indicates increased performance as a function of arousal when completing a simple task, whereas the inverted-U indicates performance as a function of optimal arousal on more complex tasks.


Just as different tasks may require different levels of arousal, different types of music (and each individual song, for that matter) can provoke different levels of arousal in certain individuals. For example, difficult tasks that require sustained concentration or focus may require lower levels of arousal for optimal performance, whereas tasks that require stamina, such as exercising or cross-training, can be performed better with higher levels of arousal. Certain types of music, such as rock music or heavy metal music, are often complex, have a faster tempo, and can often induce high levels of arousal (see “mosh pitting”) in the listener (Balch & Lewis, 1996). Classical music, conversely, is typically mellow and tends not to induce high levels of arousal (again, depending upon the complexity and tempo). In theory, it would be much easier writing a paper or performing complex math problems while listening to slow, simple music that does not induce a large amount of arousal, rather than attempting to do the same complex task while listening to heavy metal music. It is important to note, however, that different individuals have different levels of optimal arousal and could, theoretically, perform very complex tasks under highly arousing conditions (rock guitarists or drummers come to mind). The main principle in Eysenck’s theory (1967) is that introverts are usually more aroused than extraverts when responding to incoming stimuli. The theory posits that extraversion is the result of low cortical functioning of the ascending reticular activating system. In his early work, Hebb (1955) went so far as to indicate that without the foundation of an arousal function, external cues that guide our behavior cannot be effective. Eysenck also draws upon the use of the optimal arousal idea espoused in the Yerkes-Dodson law above, agreeing with the idea that an individual will perform


optimally in an optimal state of arousal. Given that introverts are usually more aroused than their extraverted counterparts in response to incoming stimuli, it would follow that introverts should perform better under weak external stimulation, whereas extraverts should perform best under increased external stimulation (Lundin, Zurron, & Diaz, 2007). There are no specific points that define one as extraverted or introverted, rather there exists a range of differences in extraversion and introversion (Eysenck, 1997). Eysenck also discussed the possible conditions of novelty, complexity (or more cognitively demanding), and emotionality as conditions that could generate optimal arousal in extraverts, while resulting in supraoptimal arousal in introverts. In regards to music, it is imperative to first understand the overall personality type (extraverted, introverted, and the range between and beyond) of an individual before one can begin to speculate what type of music can lead to optimal arousal. A balanced mix between recognition and surprise is optimal; if the music is too flat or simple, we become bored, if it is too variable or unpredictable, we become irritated. In the present theory, I posit that, in order for music to even have a chance of eliciting an autobiographical memory, it must first pass the test of falling into one’s optimal arousal range. The rationale behind personality characteristics and optimal arousal impacting music’s ability to elicit an autobiographical memory is simple: if the music is below the optimal level, the listener will become bored and either change the song or engage in a different activity; if the music is above the optimal level, the listener will become overwhelmed or annoyed and again change the song or discontinue listening altogether. If the musical stimulus falls within the optimal arousal range, it will continue to play and have the opportunity to be processed on a higher, more cognitive level. Once it can be


processed on a more cognitive level, it also provides us with further exposure to the music, which results in increased familiarity to the particular song or artist. The Role of Familiarity in Musical Perception As we go through existence, we are exposed to novel situations as well as situations we’ve been exposed to a hundred times. If we are able to find some similarity or familiarity in a novel situation, we are often able to be more at ease with the strangeness of this new experience. The more familiar I am with a song, the more likely I am to feel safe with the material and comfortable listening to it. Familiarity is what allows us to feel safe and comfortable, but can also bias our likes and dislikes. In order to find safety in music, just as we would with a good friend, we have to trust what we are hearing, as music is something outside of ourselves. The key to trust lies in one’s familiarity with the to-be-trusted person, place, or thing. Familiarity plays a special role in music’s ability to elicit autobiographical memories. In fact, if we are not familiar with a song, the odds we will continue listening are not good. If we can associate the song, artist, or genre with one we are familiar with, the likelihood we will give the song a chance increase, which increases the likelihood the song will elicit autobiographical material. Music that we are most familiar with tends to be the very same music that we enjoy and vice-versa. For example, one of my favorite artists is the rock group Linkin Park. I listen to various songs by this group on a weekly, and at times, daily, basis. We have a tendency to listen to songs we enjoy more, thus increasing our familiarity with the song, artist, and even genre. If another song by the artist were to be played, we are more likely to listen to it as we are familiar with the artist’s voice, as well as the overall type of music the band is known for. If the artist


suddenly shifts their style in a new album, we may find ourselves reaching back for their old albums and discarding the new because the change in style is strange or even uncomfortable for us. As we find music we enjoy and become familiar with it, we find ourselves listening to the music more often, in various situations, which provides the opportunity for the music to be associated with various situations and activities we are engaged in. The more we fall in love with a specific song or group, the more likely we are to listen to this enjoyed and familiar brand of music. We find ourselves playing the music in almost every situation possible: in the car, at a party, at home, while we work out, etc. The more often we play the music, the higher the chances we will associate this music with a specific event, benign or salient. Then, when we are in an unassociated situation and we hear the song, the probability that it will elicit the associated memory is increased. For example, regardless of where I am or what I am doing, if I hear the song “Here by Me” by 3 Doors Down, I am instantly transported to a memory of dancing with my beautiful wife, her exquisite dress flowing, at our wedding. I spent months searching for our wedding song and, after finding it, listened to it numerous times with and without my then fiancé to make sure it was the one. Another song, “Echo” by Trapt, was a song on their self-titled album which I listened to countless times in many different situations. It just so happens that, after the birth of our son, I was listening to this song on the way home from the hospital. Now, whenever I hear the song, I am reminded of the miracle of birth and how fortunate it is to be a father. As can be seen, these were two songs I was familiar with and listened to often, which led to the eventual association of the songs with a specific autobiographical memory. Once a song is associated with a particular memory,


each time the song is played and triggers the memory, neocortical connections between the song and memory are strengthened as well, leading to a greater chance of triggering the same, specific memory each time the song is played. Simply because we are unfamiliar with a song does not mean we will not or cannot enjoy it; if this were true, we would like only one song, band, or genre (or none at all for that matter). Many individuals gravitate toward a certain type, or genre, of music. I enjoy most rock music and this predisposes me to select artists and songs from this particular genre. Even if I hear a new song, if it is from a band I am familiar with, sounds similar to a known band, or resembles a song I enjoy, I am much more likely to continue listening to, and probably enjoying, the new music. Familiarity can exist even among those things we are least familiar with. The type of music enjoyed is often a product of exposure as a child, but especially exposure as a teenager when we begin to become more self-aware and identify with the music. I enjoy most genres of music but am especially fond of rock music I listened to as a teenager. My father listened to a lot of classic rock when I was a child, which I also enjoy now, but I find that I am much more familiar with bands such as Tool, Linkin Park, Trapt, and Staind, compared to Van Halen, Led Zepplin, and Ted Nugent. The familiarity results from exposure to the music at a time when it was poignant. Familiarity, which arises from continued, sustained exposure to a song or type of music, is another step in the process of eliciting an autobiographical memory. Music and Autobiographical Memory: The Elicitation Phase A plethora of complex physiological processes are initiated from the time music enters our ear to when it is actually perceived in the brain. These processes rely on


sophisticated neural networks in specific regions of the brain in order for musical perception to take place. Once the music is perceived, meets the arousal criteria, and is tagged as familiar, an autobiographical memory can be elicited. The underlying neuroanatomic structures and neurophysiological processes give rise to complex cognitive processes which allow musical stimuli to trigger episodic events from our past. Not only are these events intricately intertwined with the music that provokes them, they are also intimately related to accompanying emotions; in fact, these autobiographical memories that are cued by music may actually precede the emotions that seemingly accompany, or even come before, them. Just as in real estate, when it comes to music and autobiographical memory, it is all about location. It is no surprise that many of the cortical and sub-cortical areas involved in auditory processing are adjacent to areas responsible for the retrieval (and even encoding) of autobiographical memories. I will now briefly re-examine the basic neurophysiological processes of musical perception, as well as subsequent autobiographical recall. After setting the groundwork for the physiological processes that take place in designated neuroanatomical regions, I will delineate how the physical processes involved in musical perception influence autobiographical remembering by putting forth a theory as to how these processes allow music to give rise to the subsequent cognitive and affective components inherent to autobiographical memories. Music or more specifically, sound, enters our ears, strikes our eardrums, and moves to the cochleas where it vibrates hair cells that form the major part of the auditory nerves. The auditory nerves project to the medulla, the area responsible for autonomic functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and respirations. If the sound(s) we are


hearing fall within the optimal range of arousal, they continue along to neural connections that synapse with the cochlear nuclei or the superior olivary nucleus and terminate in the inferior colliculus where two pathways are formed. It is at the medulla and cerebellum where a primarily subconscious, or nonconscious, judgment is made to either continue with the sound(s) or discontinue by whatever means possible (changing song, leaving building, covering ears, etc.). If one continues with the sound(s), the neural impulse continues to travel to the ventral mediate geniculate in the thalamus, to the primary auditory cortices and secondary auditory cortices. Two things can happen depending upon whether the music is judged to be familiar or unfamiliar (this takes place in the thalamus). If the music is judged to be familiar by the thalamus, this information is relayed to the hippocampus (via the mammillary bodies) which will index the neocortex (via the entorhinal cortex, parahippocampus, and perirhinal cortex) and the associated autobiographical episode will be cued up or retrieved (via the prefrontal lobes). The cerebellum also plays a major role in the initiation and monitoring of the conscious retrieval of episodic memory; the cerebellum plays a major role in many cognitive functions, probably due to its main function of timing events, as well as coordinating movements. The cerebellum also has direct reciprocal connections with the frontal lobes and contains approximately 50-80% of the neurons in the brain! (Levitin, 2006). Once cued up, the facilitation phase begins and the music shifts from an elicitor to a facilitator, acting as a contextual cue for the procession of the autobiographical memory. It is at this stage in the process, after the memory has been triggered, that the subsequent emotional valence is identified in the amygdala. If the music is judged to be unfamiliar, the hippocampus will communicate


with the neocortex and attempt to find a similar, or more familiar, artist or song. It is also plausible that the thalamus simultaneously communicates this unfamiliarity to the hypothalamus, which has an influence on the autonomic nervous system (this would serve as a protective function, simulating the fight or flight response upon exposure to something not recognized). Once an unfamiliar song is associated to a similar song, it cues an autobiographical memory as explained above. In the event that a similar song cannot be associated from an unfamiliar song, it is highly unlikely any autobiographical episode will be triggered, as there is no memory associated with the stimulus. The plausibility of the ability of music to elicit autobiographical memory is supported by the idea of incidental reactivation (Nyberg, 2002). Basically, when different component of an event have been consolidated into long-term memory, functional connections are established between the neuronal groups that represent the different components, which are supported by medial temporal lobe structures involved in the encoding and retrieval of memory. Reactivation of one component during retrieval leads to reactivation of other components, even if the situation does not demand the retrieval of the other components, which explains how music has the potential to elicit autobiographical memory. As an individual listens to a song they are familiar with, the chances that it will elicit an associated autobiographical memory are inherent to the listening process, as neurons responsible with the memory have the opportunity to become excited as they are connected to neurons responsible for identifying the musical stimulus. According to Jeff Hawkins (2004), the neocortex stores sequences of patterns in an invariant form; the brain does not remember exactly what it perceives, but utilizes a


sort of template, or internal representation, of the world. The brain remembers relationships in the world that are independent of details. The neocortex stores sequences of patterns hierarchically in an invariant form; these patterns are recalled in an autoassociative pattern in which patterns are associated with themselves. The cortex can recall complete patterns with partial or distorted input by filling in the missing parts of the patterns that may be missing. Hawkins goes on to state that a cue (in this case music) begins a cascade of auto-association throughout specific, interrelated neural networks, resulting in the firing of a limited number of synapses and neurons that can be active at any one time. Hawkins utilizes the idea of connectionism, long-term potentiation, and spreading activation to explain how an external sensory cue becomes associated with an internal physiological process that gives rise to subsequent cognitive and affective processes. In terms of music, we may need only a part of a song or melody to trigger an autobiographical memory because our brain “fills in” the missing pieces through invariant representations and auto-associative networks. Now that the process of how music can elicit autobiographical memory has been delineated, the next question is what happens to the memory once it is triggered? Music and Autobiographical Memory: The Facilitation Phase Once a memory is cued, the music continues to act as the context upon which the autobiographical episode is retrieved. A context is necessary in order to provide a retrieval template for the memory; as episodic memories are often dynamically recalled, they require a form of retrieval known as generative retrieval. In generative retrieval, as opposed to direct retrieval, the search process is provided with increasingly more elaborate or specific cues that focus or localize the activation until a stable pattern of


activation is achieved (Conway et al., 1999). Direct retrieval occurs when a single cue leads to the activation of a single item that can spread to other associated events or lifetime periods. It is possible for autobiographical memories to be elicited by way of direct retrieval, but it is through generative retrieval that the memories are elaborated or expanded upon. The prefrontal lobes go to work and, as the memory unfolds, details are added and emotional recognition and processing can occur. Other areas of the brain, such as the parietal lobes, cingulate cortex, and cerebellum also get involved in the processing of the autobiographical information. Each region plays a specific role in the retrieval and processing of the autobiographical episode, but it is the prefrontal lobes that are extremely busy at this time. The prefrontal lobes act as a control operator for processing the narrative stream in autobiographical memory. More specifically, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex maintains the memory in working memory and evaluates the information for emotional significance. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is responsible for monitoring, operating, and verifying the retrieval representation. Finally, the anterior medial to superior prefrontal cortex is involved in self-referential processing, the part of the memory that pertains to ascertaining how the memory is related to the person recalling the episode. Once the memory is cued, the frontal lobes begin the process of temporally unfolding the autobiographical memory. A working representation of the memory, from a specific starting point, begins and the frontal lobes facilitate the process of unfolding the autobiographical episode. The frontal lobes do not stop at emotionally devoid cognitive recall processes; they are actually involved in emotional processing depending upon what emotion is associated with the memory.


Once the memory is recalled, the emotion(s) associated with the memory are also remembered, or even re-experienced, as the memory unfolds. The right frontal lobe has increased activity if the memory is associated with fear or sadness, whereas the left frontal lobe has increased activity if the memory is related to joy or happiness. If one is remembering the death of a loved one, it is more likely that the right frontal lobe is more active in processing this memory, as well as the emotions associated to the memory. Conversely, if one is remembering the same loved one, but remembering the games they played as a child it is probable that the left frontal lobe is more active. Regardless, it is the frontal lobes that are not only facilitating the cognitive processes involved in autobiographical recall, but also evaluating the memories for emotional significance. Explaining the process as above also lends support to the idea that the memory is recalled before the emotion is experienced (to the delight of many cognitive-behavioral scientists). The frontal lobes also receive massive amounts of input from other regions in the brain, such as the mammillary bodies and cingulate cortex in the medial temporal lobe, as well as the parietal lobes and the cerebellum. The cingulate cortex processes spatial content, facilitates attentional modulation to maintain the retrieval mode, and facilitates the re-experiencing of emotions during the recollection of autobiographical memories. In a way, the cingulate cortex keeps our attention on the episode, as well as allows for the re-experiencing of emotions that are associated with the memory. The mammillary bodies facilitate recollections that rely on temporal-spatial information, which is exactly what autobiographical memories are based on: the re-experiencing of episodes in time and space. The parietal lobes also process spatial information to a degree, but are mainly responsible for the mental representation of where and when an event took place. In a


way, the parietal lobes act as our calendar and our global positioning system in regards to autobiographical memories. Due to the close proximity of the aforementioned brain areas to the medial temporal lobe, as well as their shared connections to the frontal lobes, it is clear to see that these areas work very closely with each other, although they are responsible for very diverse functioning in regards to autobiographical recall. As the memory unfolds the music continues to provide the background that facilitates ongoing temporal unfolding of the memory from a start point to an end point. During this time, details of the memory can be added, modified, or remain unclear. It is also during this phase that emotions associated with the memory can be re-experienced, processed, reflected upon, questioned, or even reframed. As the music facilitates the unfolding of the memory, details can be remembered and added, at which time the memory can be updated and renewed. It is also during this time that the emotions experienced at the time of the memory can be elaborated upon and processed, should the individual choose to do so. The recall of the memory through music is in itself a fascinating phenomenon, but it is the re-experiencing and potential re-processing of the emotions associated to the memory that may have the most clinical relevance. In theory, with the proper cue and functioning neurons it should be possible to access any past experience. I will discuss the ethical implications of this possibility later. The Issue of Choice and Autobiographical Reminiscing It appears that the only choice one may have in regards to music eliciting memories is that of whether to listen to the particular piece of music or not. If one chooses not to listen, they appear safe from any episodic recall that may be triggered and facilitated by the music. On the other hand, an individual who chooses to listen to the


piece of music appears to be at the mercy of the music; whatever memory has been associated to the song is bound to be recalled and the individual must suffer (or enjoy) the re-experiencing of the episode. I would like to argue the freedom to choose what one listens to, as well as what one remembers. Although the music can be stopped at any time during the elicitation or facilitation phases of autobiographical recall, this does not ensure that the memory will stop. Physiologically, the cascade of neuronal firing has begun and, as anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can attest to, the memories can persist long after the removal of the cue exposure. Simply because the memory has the potential to continue does not mean that it will indefinitely; the premise of this theory itself is that music has the potential to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory, not that it will every time a song is heard. Human beings can enact their volition even in spite of seeming limitations. Through various techniques such as distraction, meditation, engaging in alternate activities, deep breathing, or simply exchanging one song for another, an individual is able to choose to at least attempt to alter their situation. The same goes for music and memory. Again, it is important to stress the issue of choice within limitations, as many individuals suffering from PTSD are unable to control the recall of adverse events, especially when exposed to certain cues that trigger the memories. It is possible, however, for many individuals who are attempting to repress traumatic memories to obtain medical or psychological treatment that can assist them in reprocessing and integrating specific memories so they are no longer as traumatic as they once were. I will


discuss the clinical implications of music and memory in relation to specific clinical diagnoses, such as depression and PTSD, in chapter 5. Human beings may not be able to choose what they remember, but they may be able to choose how they remember. As remembering is a dynamic process, it is plausible that memories could be remembered in different ways. By accessing memories, reflecting upon them, and processing emotions that are associated with the memories, an individual is afforded the prospect of changing how they remember past events. What we remember, as well as how we remember, is often a function of the goals of the self; that part of an individual that defines who they are as a human being-in-the-world. Goals of the Self in Relation to Autobiographical Remembering Autobiographical memories may be the most important aspect of memory as far as humans are concerned. The sense of who we are, or a sense of self, is how we see ourselves in time. Each individual’s definition of who they are is contingent upon autobiographical memories; our sense of self is a conglomeration of who we are, who we want to become, and who we were. It is safe to say that one cannot know who they are unless they can remember who they were. Through the retrieval of autobiographical memory, we essential re-create memories related to the self. What makes this phenomenon so interesting is not that we essentially re-create our autobiographical memories each time according to the needs or goals of the self, but that we can re-create who we are through retrospective autobiographical remembering. As we are influenced by specific goals as we remember autobiographical material, our memories are colored by our current needs or desires. I may have a current need to reconnect with an old friend, predisposing me to guide an elicited memory down a path


that involves, or is associated with, a friend who I have not seen in some time. One who has just failed at something may remember a time when they succeeded. Another individual who has spent years denying an experience may be in a place where they are now comfortable with the experience and wish to process the events in full. We often remember things from our past in order to serve the present moment; these memories act as a guide, or template, for our current our future behavior. It is important to remember that, even though we may not be able to choose what memory we elicit from a specific cue, we can often either choose the cues that elicit the memory or choose whether to continue to facilitate the unfolding of the memories. Cues in our environment are spontaneously triggering memories, but we often choose to ignore them and focus attention elsewhere, as the memories are not fulfilling the current needs of the self. I may see a picture of myself in a tuxedo on my wedding day which, if allowed, would trigger many memories, but because I have other goals in the moment, such as completing a project that is long overdue, I choose to ignore the memory triggered by the stimulus and shift my attention elsewhere. I may not be able to control cue exposure, but, in this instance, I can control the unfolding of the memory and turn my attentional resources elsewhere. It is also possible for me to choose to facilitate a cued memory and allow for an autobiographical episode to unfold as I actively process, or reprocess, the memory. Also, as I can choose to ignore a potential cue, I can choose a cue, such as a song, to trigger an associated memory. The current goals of the self are quite important in regards to what, when, and how we remember autobiographical memories.


As always, I have to stress the notion of choice within limitations, as some conditions, such as post-traumatic events, do not always obey the command to stop. Memories such as these are highly salient and bring up intense emotions and vivid recollections, often to the point that once they are cued, their unfolding is almost guaranteed to follow regardless of one’s decision to facilitate recall of the memory or not. Expectations and cognitive predispositions also influence remembering in other psychological disorders, such as depression or anxiety, although each disorder seems to influence autobiographical recall in different manners (more of this later in the clinical discussion section). Memories also seem to be uniquely influence over time, as older memories tend to be remembered differently than newer memories; older individuals also tend to remember things differently than younger individuals for various reasons. Older Versus Newer Memories More recent memories are usually more emotionally salient and contain more details than older, less often recalled memories. As memories are recalled less and less, the connections weaken and the memories become more schematized and vague. Memories that are recalled more often result in long-term potentiation of the corresponding neurons and the connections are strengthened, resulting in an increased likelihood that the event will be recalled more often and in richer detail. Older individuals tend to remember the basics (who, what, where, etc.) to a memory, whereas younger individuals tend to remember things more dynamically. Also, the older one gets, the more likely they are to reappraise negative events in a positive light (Comblain et al., 2005). As our neurons decay over time, especially those connecting the medial temporal lobe to the neocortex, we tend to lose details of memories, as well as memories


themselves. If the neurons in which the memories were encoded, or related pathways, are disrupted or eliminated, it is highly unlikely we will remember the corresponding memory. Due to older, more semantically based aspects of memories being stored more widespread in the neocortex, it is not a surprise that older adults tend to remember more schematized versions of memories. They may be able to remember who was present, what the outcome was, and where the episode took place, but may struggle with how the event unfolded. Younger adults, however, tend to remember episodes much more dynamically, possibly due to the availability of more numerous and stronger connections. They also tend to remember the associated emotions and outcomes to events, especially for negative events, which probably serves to alter future behavior. As we get older, it is also in our best interest to remember things in a positive light. An adverse event from our youth, such as being bested in a fight, is often something we can look back at and laugh about as we get older. Not only is the threat removed, but the meaning of the memory, along with current goals, is changed. It is through remembering in a positive light that an elderly adult can reconnect with their kin, sharing stories and lessons from their younger days. Remembering events in a positive light is emotionally rewarding for us as we age and also allows us to continue nourishing life-sustaining social connections. Our autobiographical memories undergo various cognitive and affective changes related to the underlying physiological changes in the cortex. As connections and neurons associated with specific neurons decrease, the memories become less vivid and more difficult to recall. These memories become schematized and remembered in a more general, less dynamic, format than they once were resulting in the recall of less detail. As


younger individuals tend to re-create the memories each time they are recalled, older adults tend to remember the same general versions. Due to different goals of the self at different timeframes in the lifespan, older adults tend to remember things in a more positive light, whereas younger individuals are especially prone to remembering negative events. As one ages, remembering events for their gains and positive lessons becomes a priority, whereas the youth remember negative aspects in order to alter their future behavior. In this sense, as the cognitive and affective goals of the self change over time, the underlying physiological processes by which we remember change as well. Music, due to its ability to influence autobiographical memory, can impact the quantity and quality of the recalled autobiographical episodes.

A Theory of how Music can Elicit and Facilitate Autobiographical Memory Phase I: Elicitation 1. Musical stimuli enter our ear(s) and are projected to the medulla via the auditory nerve. 2. If the stimuli are overly simple, boring, too complex, or over stimulating, thus falling outside of the optimal range of arousal (intensity dimension of emotion), an individual will attempt to alter the stimuli or remove themselves from it. 3. If the musical stimuli fall within an optimal range of arousal for a given individual, it continues to travel through various neural pathways until it reaches the thalamus. 4. In the thalamus, musical stimuli are processed for familiarity; the thalamus, being the relay center of the brain, communicates with various physiological


structures throughout the cortex (and neocortex). If the stimuli are judged to be unfamiliar, the hippocampus will communicate with the neocortex in an attempt to find a similar, or secondarily associated, artists or songs. In the event a similar song (or any connection) cannot be associated, it is highly unlikely any autobiographical memory will be elicited. The stimuli at this point can be engaged in on a merely aesthetic basis. 5. If the stimuli are judged to be familiar, or if unfamiliar stimuli are associated with familiar stimuli, this information is relayed to the hippocampus which indexes the neocortex and cues up the associated autobiographical episode in the frontal lobes via the processes of spreading activation and incidental reactivation. 6. Once a memory is cued up, or triggered, the associated emotions (valence dimension of emotion) are also triggered, and a cognitive appraisal of the specific type(s) of emotion is made. At this point, the autobiographical memory can unfold into an episode through the facilitation phase. Phase II: Facilitation 7. If the memory is cued and the individual continues to focus his/her attention to the unfolding of an episode, the elicitation phase develops into the facilitation phase. At this point, the music continues to act as a context upon which the autobiographical episode is recalled. 8. Through the process of generative or direct retrieval, the autobiographical memory is recalled, unfolds, and is constantly updated with more details and, possibly, the re-experiencing and reprocessing of associated emotions. The


prefrontal lobes act as the control operators, riding on the contextual musical stimuli, processing the developing narrative stream. 9. The frontal lobes continuously communicate with medial temporal lobe structures, such as the hippocampus, cingulate cortex, and mammillary bodies, as well as the parietal lobes and cerebellum. The cingulate cortex is involved in maintaining the retrieval mode and the re-experiencing of emotions, whereas the mammillary bodies are involved with temporal-spatial information processing. The parietal lobes provide a representation of where and when and event took place, whereas the cerebellum monitors the ongoing retrieval process and provides information related to timing of events. 10. The recall process occurs at a specific temporal starting point from which the episode unfolds; it is possible, however, to add more details and alter the starting point as the musical context provides updated and expanded temporal, spatial, or semantic information. 11. An individual can choose to intervene and disrupt this process at any point, within limitations. One can choose to discontinue exposure to the stimuli or, if unable to, can elect to shift their focus to other stimuli. It must be stressed that some memories are so salient that, once triggered, their recall and even reexperience, are inevitable and may be difficult or even impossible to discontinue recall. 12. Autobiographical recall is influenced by the specific goals of the current self; autobiographical memories are often remembered in specific ways for specific purposes. Remembering something in a certain way can offset current


problematic experiences or aid in overcoming troublesome thoughts or emotions associated with a current state of being. Music can influence this process by enhancing the accessibility and quality of retrieved episodes. 13. The older the memory, the more schematized, stable, and general it becomes. Older memories are also more difficult to retrieve, especially those that are not retrieved often or are extremely complex, due to the absence of long-term potentiation which results in decreased neural connections. Music can assist in the enrichment or addition of autobiographical details. 14. Newer memories are often recalled more dynamically and re-created at the time of recall (providing the proper physiological mechanisms are in place and not destroyed, or disrupted, from various insults or disease processes), thus being more unstable in comparison to their older counterparts. 15. Physical changes in the brain over time result in different retrieval strategies over time. As an individual ages, they tend to remember autobiographical episodes in a more schematized and general manner, whereas younger individuals have a tendency to reconstruct episodes more dynamically each time. Music may be able to enhance qualitative aspects of autobiographical recall. 16. Different cultures have different types of music and it is important to be aware of likes and dislikes, as well as what is common and widely accepted by various diverse cultural groups. Respect for diversity in music, as well as the role music plays in specific cultures, is imperative when engaging in research or other professional activities.


17. A myriad of ethical implications exist in potentially using music to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memories. It is important for an individual who plans on conducting research, as well as working clinically or professionally, to be aware of the ethical pitfalls and problems that can arise from the use of music in memory.


CHAPTER V CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS Overview Music, as other external sensory cues, has the potential to elicit and facilitate the recall and unfolding of autobiographical memories. The process, from the sound entering the ear, to the completion of an autobiographical episode, is comprised of physiological, cognitive, and affective processes along the way, which are also influenced by preexisting factors related to preference and exposure. The fact that music has the ability elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory has been delineated; the issues that now must be addressed are the clinical relevance of this process, as well as the day to day considerations. In this section, I will discuss the possibility of using music from a therapeutic standpoint in general, as well as provide specific case examples. Music can be used to reprocess, reframe, and even reorganize memories and emotions. It can also lead to feelings of deep connectedness through peak experiences, possibly enhance existing neural networks, create more cognitive reserve, calm the sympathetic nervous system, and lead to more synchronous brain states. Music can be engaged with for aesthetic, as well as nostalgic, purposes and can allow us to reflect on our being at a deeper, existential level. Due to the inherent power of music, especially in its potential to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memories, issues of diversity and ethics must also be considered from


clinical and social perspectives. I will conclude by discussing potential research in the area of music and autobiographical memory. Music holds the potential to elicit all sorts of memories and accompanying emotions. These memories and emotions, once triggered, offer an invaluable method for reclaiming or even reprocessing one’s past. Memories that have been long forgotten, buried deep within ones mind, can be triggered through the strategic use of musical stimuli. More importantly, the emotions that accompany the memories span the entire spectrum of human emotional experience. A song can remind an individual of a fond childhood memory, resulting in feelings of joy and contentment; the same song can also result in experiencing the complex, poorly understood emotion of nostalgia. Experiencing joy, happiness, and even nostalgia are seldom undesired by humans and tend not to be problematic. It is the memories that evoke strong negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, and even loss that can ultimately end up causing more harm than good. Many individuals spend a tremendous amount of energy trying not to experience anything negative. They shy away from news reports, arguments, death, loss, or any other situation that may make them feel sad; a song that evokes a memory with a negative tone could be problematic for an individual such as this. What could they do in this situation, short of shutting the stimulus off, if the memory and subsequent emotion has already been set in motion? Is the individual stuck re-experiencing the memories and emotions without an escape? Yes and no. Individuals that understand they are having a memory, albeit a painful memory, have the option to cognitively reframe the context of the memory and/or reprocess the emotion(s) involved. Reframing allows an individual to


shift the context of the memory. For example, an individual who remembers a painful divorce every time a certain song comes on can usually, after some time of course, reframe the context of the memory. The memory can shift from “this was such a painful time in my life” to “this was such a painful time in my life; however, I am in a different place now.” Reprocessing allows a once threatening emotional experience to be transformed into a new or revised emotional experience. Emotions that were once experienced as painful can be altered, or even replaced, into emotions that are less painful. The sadness mentioned in the memory above can be reflected upon and transformed into a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction for one’s ability to overcome a once painful experience. Reframing and reprocessing, in the context of music, can lead to neurological reorganization and more physiological stability over time (Ho, Cheung, & Chan, 2003). Reframing and reprocessing memories and emotions are easier said than done; a lot of mental effort must be put forth and patience is the key. Interestingly, the majority of therapy, either in individual, family, or group format, consists of reframing and reprocessing thoughts and feelings on new levels. It can take extended periods of time, even years, however, for a patient to access memories or emotions that are difficult to handle. Music would provide a means to potentially accelerate this process (with the disciplined clinical judgment of a trained or educated therapist, of course) and allow deeper, more connected access to past experiences. Some individuals, such as those suffering from post-traumatic stress, often have difficulty differentiating memory from current reality. Intrusive memories, in the form of flashbacks, can take over unannounced and wreak havoc on an individual’s


physiological, affective, cognitive, occupational, family, and social functioning. Incessant nightmares of a traumatic event can leave an individual unable to sleep, engage in common daily activities, or can even push them to the depths of self-destruction. An intervention that could assist an individual in the reframing and reprocessing of these memories, or other related memories (in this case, provided they are triggered by a musical or even auditory cue), would be an invaluable addition to a clinician’s repertoire of interventions. Music could lead to the reframing of traumatic memories or the reprocessing of unwanted or negative emotions associated with the memory, which can result in overall reorganization of the neural networks as the experience is integrated. Music can facilitate the extraction and understanding of the emotional meaning of a memory, while at the same time providing synchrony and stability to a potentially chaotic neurological situation. Individuals who are in the grips of a major depressive episode, or even a recurring major depressive disorder, could benefit from the reframing, reprocessing, and reorganization that music can provide. Depressing memories can be triggered through music and reframed and/or reprocessed in order to transform them. If an individual can either reframe a memory or reprocess the associated emotion, some relief is granted through the fact that change has occurred. Individuals who are depressed could also benefit from music that matches their melancholy, providing some resonance, while eventually moving toward a more present-focused orientation that allows one to reflect upon their past, rather than being stuck in it. The use of music may also benefit individuals who are suffering from various cognitive problems, such as dementia. It may be possible for musical stimuli to trigger


and facilitate once lost memories. Music can provide the background context to life reviews in older adults that may lead to the triggering of forgotten autobiographical material, which would allow an individual to reconnect with a once lost part of their life. Music may hold the possibility of enhancing pre-existing connections, reconnecting old connections, or even forming new connections (plasticity). It can provide the encoding and retrieval support that is currently absent from a specific memory (DeVreese, Neri, Fioravanti, Belloi, & Zanettie, 2001). Music could also be used in healthcare settings, more specifically, with oncology patients. Many patients undergoing treatment for cancer spend countless days or months in the hospital, often losing touch with who they were before cancer. Music can provide them a way to reconnect with who they were or even provide a way to reframe and reprocess their experience, resulting in a new, unified sense of self. The ability to remember who they are outside of the treatment setting could reinforce their sense of self, as well as encourage interactions with their peers. Besides its potential to trigger and facilitate autobiographical memories in the clinical or personal realm, music can have benefits outside of memory. A specific song, under the right circumstances, can lead to a peak experience. The music can engage the individual with a deep sense of connectedness on an extremely existential level. The experience can be both powerful and transformative, leaving the individual with greater understanding of being than s/he had before. Peak experiences are profound and seldom forgetful. They can allow us the opportunity to understand our existence, the essence of our being, and a feeling of interconnectedness with all that we experience.


Nostalgia is an often misunderstood emotion that can be triggered by autobiographical memories. It is often described as a compilation of bittersweet, sad and happy emotions (Wildschut, Sedikides, Arndt, & Routledge, 2006). I feel nostalgia to be a separate, complex emotion in its own right, rather than a combination of other, more basic, emotions. Nostalgia arises when we re-experience a memory that has shifted for us in some way. We may experience the same emotion tied to a memory, but we are able to reframe the memory in the present moment. If we cannot reframe the memory, then it is likely that we have reprocessed the emotions associated with it. Nostalgia may result from good or bad memories that have been restructured over time. As music elicits and facilitates memory, it employs and incorporates various neural networks throughout the cortex. These networks may be utilized to varying degrees, but musical listening can enhance the amount certain pathways are employed. By engaging pathways over time, connections are strengthened or even created, leading to more and robust connections throughout the cortex. According to the notion of cognitive reserve, the more connections throughout the cortex, the more likely we are to have redundant connections; the more redundant connections we have, the less likely we are to experience the ill effects of loss or damage to certain neural networks (Allen, Bruss, & Damasio, 2005). Listening to music can also result in synchronous brain states, which may further lead to relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system. The brain is a highly chaotic system that has synchrony between subsets of neural networks which seem to operate somewhat independently from each other (Jeong et al., 1998). As one listens to music, the cortex has a tendency to synchronize and cortical chaos is reduced. Music employs various


regions and systems of the brain and may act as a conductor to the chaotic orchestra of the mind. It has the potential to bring various systems in synchrony with one another, which can lead to a calmer, more relaxed nervous system. Because music has a tendency to first act on the sympathetic nervous system, as delineated in the present theory, listening to music could also result in a more relaxed sympathetic nervous system. A more relaxed sympathetic nervous system would result in lowered blood pressure, along with calmer respiratory patterns, lower physiological arousal, and less tension (Schmidt & Trainor, 2001). The aesthetic experience of musical listening rises above all other intents and purposes of music. Few things on this earth are as beautiful as a well-composed symphony, a catchy beat, or touching lyrics. Regardless of what other functions music may have in store, the sheer fact that it exists for the human experience is beyond priceless. Music can cut to the essence of our being and impact us in profound ways. One could go so far as to say that we are what we listen to. Case Number 1: Post-traumatic stress Gunner is a 61-year-old divorced Caucasian male who currently resides in a Michigan veteran’s home. He is no longer ambulatory, as he lost use of his legs after a raid on his camp during his second tour, and gets around with the use of a wheelchair. Gunner has lived at the veteran’s home since 1980, when he was transferred from a psychiatric institution. His diagnosis upon admittance was Posttraumatic stress disorder, along with a positive history of alcohol abuse and dependence. Gunner was an infantry lieutenant in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. His platoon was on a much needed break at their base camp awaiting their next


orders when they were caught by surprise. A band of enemy guerillas had snuck up on the base and launched a surprise attack on Gunner’s platoon. Most of his troops were killed, although a few (Gunner included) managed to survive by seeking safety in the surrounding jungle. Although a few of the soldiers were able to escape with their lives, most of them were not able to escape without injuries. Gunner suffered numerous gunshot wounds to his lower legs and was forced to crawl to safety, but not before he witnessed many of his soldiers being massacred. Gunner received and honorable discharge from the Army after the raid and was sent to a military hospital to recover. Both legs were amputated above the knees, due to the severity of the injuries. Gunner recovered without significant medical problems and was discharged from the hospital. He rented a small apartment in a small city and set out to resume life as a civilian. The only thing holding him back was the fact that any time he heard loud noises, such as people yelling, he would experience flashbacks of the raid on his platoon. Worse, he was often unable to sleep at night as recurrent nightmares of the episode would haunt him. He would spend his days recounting the massacre over and over without relief. In attempts to cope with the high states of vigilance, over-arousal, flashbacks, nightmares, and horrific memories, Gunner turned to alcohol. He would drink continuously, day after day, in attempts to black out in order to avoid re-experiencing the horrible memories. One episode of binge drinking went too far and Gunner was found unconscious on a street corner. A kind-hearted man found him, unconscious and almost dead, and called an ambulance. Gunner was taken to the emergency room, where he was treated for alcohol poisoning and sent to the hospital’s detoxification unit until he was


stable. After meeting with numerous social workers, psychiatrists, and other medical staff, it was evident that Gunner suffered from severe PTSD. Arrangements were made for him to obtain residence at a local veteran’s home, where he could be monitored and receive the treatment that he needed. Along with conventional psychotherapy and medications for PTSD, Gunner’s therapist suggested the use of music to help with his arousal states, as well as an aid to elicit and facilitate some of the traumatic memories he had in attempts to reprocess and reframe the memories. First, the therapist inquired into any songs that stuck out to Gunner, especially songs that were played at the base camp. Gunner indicated that one song in particular, “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones, reminded him of the day the raid took place. He indicated that the platoon had been socializing and relaxing, listening to the radio as they often did. Gunner could remember the sense of stillness all around him, with the soldiers hum of conversation and the background of the radio, right before the ambush took place. Now that the duo had a song to work with the therapist decided to use it in session. Gunner arrived and was informed of what he was about to hear. He was encouraged to report any images, emotions, bodily sensations, or anything else that stood out as significant while the song was played. As the song began, Gunner reported a vivid image of himself in front of a mirror, shaving. In the process of shaving, he heard some shouting and went out to see what it was. Then he heard automatic weapons firing and went to grab his weapon, but it was too late. The camp was surrounded by the enemy and he could see his soldiers being shot down. He could smell the smoke from the weapons, hear the screams of his fellow soldiers, and sense the fear in himself as he went to grab


his weapon. As he neared his weapon, he felt sharp, stinging sensations in both of his calves. He attempted to move, but fell to his knees and then face first into the dirt. As he was reporting his memory, his body began to tremble and his voice became weak. At the end of the song, all he could say was “why couldn’t I save them?” The therapist, armed with a detailed account of Gunner’s traumatic memory, was now in a position to reprocess the emotions tied to the memory, as well as work toward a reframing of the thoughts attached to it. Through a detailed discussion of the fear, anger, and sadness accompanying the memories, Gunner was able to reconnect with emotions that he had shut off and attempted to numb with alcohol. He was able to re-experience these emotions in the safety of a therapy session, with the guidance of a musically savvy and trained therapist. After processing the situation, Gunner was able to come to the realization that it was not his fault; the entire platoon was taken by surprise. He was able to reframe the memory and reprocess the emotions accompanying it, which resulted in a reorganization of experience. The nightmares began to abate and the traumatic memory had been transformed. Although this is a rather simplistic account of the use of music to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memories, it does outline how music may be used in this particular disorder. An ethical, knowledgeable, and supportive therapist can use his/her clinical training, as well as musical training when applicable, to access traumatic memories in order to reprocess the emotions and reframe the cognitions of the experience. In the event that a patient has an adverse reaction to the music, the trained clinician can intervene in the appropriate manner (i.e. shutting the music off, processing in the here-and-now, initiating relaxation techniques or other behavioral interventions,


etc.). It is therefore imperative, just as with other forms of treatment, that a clinician be aware of the possibility of a negative reaction and be prepared to deal with this situation accordingly. Case Number 2: Depression Madison is a 26-year-old African-American female who presented to her physician’s office with complaints of depressed mood, loss of interest, insomnia, fatigue, and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. She was prescribed Cymbalta, as well as given a referral to see a therapist to address some of the underlying cognitive, affective, and behavioral issues that may be contributing to her constellation of symptoms. Madison was a bit skeptical of “talk therapy” and had a difficult time expressing her thoughts and feelings during her weekly sessions with her therapist, Emily. She realized her mood and her thoughts were out of the usual for her, but could not pinpoint exactly what was going on inside of her. After a few sessions, she was able to indicate that she felt empty inside and felt as though she was a failure. Her relationship with her husband had suffered and the couple barely spoke anymore. Although she was able to voice these concerns, she continued to struggle identifying exactly what was going on inside her. Frustrated, Emily inquired into Madison’s interest in music, to which she indicated that she absolutely loved jazz music, especially Miles Davis. Emily instructed Madison to create a list of jazz songs, as well as any other songs that she enjoyed, and bring them to their next session. Madison readily agreed and set out to create the list for next week’s session. With list in hand, Madison and Emily identified one specific song that seemed to resonate with Madison at the current time. Emily played the song during the next session


and observed Madison’s reaction. As the song went on, Madison’s mood shifted and she became tearful. Upon completion of the song, Emily asked Madison what she was thinking and feeling during the song, especially when she became tearful. Madison explained that she had a miscarriage approximately a year ago and she used to listen to this particular song while she was pregnant. She remembered how excited she and her husband were to start their family. She also recalled how lost and disoriented she felt after the miscarriage. Madison slowly lost interest in most of the things she enjoyed and experienced her mood dip to lows she had never experienced before in her life. She spent the days struggling to keep her focus at work, after which she would come home and spend the rest of the evening in her bedroom alone unable to sleep. Her husband began working overtime and was not home but a few hours a night to sleep, which he did on the sofa. Madison’s mood had plummeted, along with her interest, energy, and relationship with her husband. Emily and Madison now had more autobiographical material to work with during their sessions. The duo was able to identify some of Madison’s automatic thoughts, such as “I’ll never have a family” and “I need to be a mother to be of value.” Through extensive cognitive-behavioral work, Madison was able to replace some of her negative automatic thoughts with more rational responses to situations. Furthermore, Madison was able to identify and challenge some of her irrational core beliefs, such as her belief that she was damaged and unfit to be a mother. Madison was also able to reach out to her husband and discuss some of her feelings, as well as her desire to spend more time with him. He promptly cut back his hours at work and the couple began to spend evenings together on a regular basis. Madison’s mood had improved, she regained her ability to


concentrate at work and, most importantly, her relationship with her husband had reconnected. In this particular case, music was used to act as a catalyst in therapy; the autobiographical memory was not the focus of therapy per se, rather it elucidated the situation that was cause for all of the subsequent symptoms. The therapist was able to use music when therapy had arrived at an impasse, jump starting the therapeutic process and allowing the patient to access thoughts that were exacerbating affective symptoms. It is important to note that, if deemed appropriate by the therapist, processing thoughts and feelings that come up during the playing of parts of a song can also be done. The therapist would simply stop the song at the appropriate place and begin reprocessing or reframing emotions and memories from said point. Alternately (as in the present case), the therapist could allow the song to play continuously during the recall of the memory and then reprocess and reframe after completion of the song. Case Number 3: Dementia Raleigh is a 78-year-old Caucasian male who was referred to a geropsychologist, Dr. Wolk in order to obtain emotional support along with possible cognitive rehabilitation. He was a retired writer who spent a great deal of his adult life traveling the world and spending time with his family. It became evident through an interview with his wife, Mary, that he was experiencing difficulty recalling times he had spent with his children and grandchildren and that this was becoming increasingly stressful for Raleigh, as well as his family. Along with structured cognitive rehabilitation, Dr. Wolk decided to administer a life review, along with background music, with Raleigh. She inquired into Raleigh’s


musical preferences, if any, with both Raleigh and Mary. Mary indicated that Raleigh often listened to classical music when his children and grandchildren would visit and would have it playing in the house almost continuously. He was especially fond of Beethoven, along with other classical music by Mozart, Haydn, and Bach. Dr. Wolk decided to play a continuous compact disc of Beethoven while conducting the life review with Raleigh. Although Dr. Wolk was not able to obtain much autobiographical data from her initial interview with Raleigh, the life review with the addition of music provided rich details into a few of Raleigh’s most significant memories. When listening to “Ode to Joy,” Raleigh became tearful and explained that the situation reminded him of reading books with his 4-year-old grandson. He provided an extended account of sitting in a recliner in his living room, with his grandson on his lap, laughing about a story they had just read. Upon discussing this memory, it became evident that Raleigh’s mood had improved and he experienced a sense of happiness upon recall of the memory. He told Dr. Wolk that he had not recalled such memories in years and that it brought him great joy to do so, even if the recall was only possible in session and may be short-lived. In this scenario, the music was able to elicit an autobiographical memory that had presumably been lost. Upon playing the song, which was the associated cue at the time of memory consolidation, the associated memory was accessed and recall was made possible. Furthermore, the patient was able to elaborate on the recalled memory, which allowed him to access and expand upon a memory that was lost in time. The recall not only provided him with emotional satisfaction from remembering, it also provided him with hope and a sense of accomplishment. He could now potentially use other songs to


elicit and facilitate other autobiographical episodes that may have been buried over time. The patient could also use songs and recalled memories to strengthen the recall of unlocked memories or use music as an associative cue that could help him to encode new autobiographical information as it is experienced. Case Number 4: Cancer Lauren is a 14-year-old Hispanic female who was originally diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 11. She suffered a recent relapse and was set to have intrathecal chemotherapy and possibly a second stem cell transplant. Lauren was dreading having to go through the procedures a second time and became very anxious. All she could think about was the pain of the needle sticks, as well as the associated nausea and vomiting from the chemotherapy. As the surgery for her Hickman catheter neared, she became increasingly anxious about returning to the hospital. Knowing that she would become more ill without the procedure and subsequent chemotherapy treatments, Lauren needed to find a way to deal with the anxiety she was experiencing. A nurse on the pediatric unit suggested that she listen to music to help her calm down and even suggested that she may listen to music during the procedures to distract herself. Lauren decided to give this idea a try and quickly began compiling playlists on her iPod. She specifically made one mellow playlist full of Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, and Jewel to help calm her down. Another playlist consisted of faster paced music to help distract her during medical or surgical procedures. Lauren went into her surgery a little less anxious and hoped that the music could help calm her even more.


Although the procedure was still painful, she was able to listen to the music before the procedure to help calm her. She felt remarkably more relaxed and did not experience the same amount of anxiety she had before. During the procedure, she was able to distract herself by listening to the faster paced music that she had compiled. Additionally, she played the distracting music during her chemotherapy treatments and the time spent seemed to fly by. She also played the calm music a few hours after the treatment, right about the time that she would become nauseous, and she experienced fewer episodes of emesis. After spending so much time in the hospital, Lauren felt like she was confined to a prison. She lost contact with her friends and could not remember what it was like to interact with others like a normal teenager. She was, however, able to listen to music that reminded her of what life was like before her cancer treatment had begun. Through listening to particular songs, she was able to reconnect with herself and remember who she was apart from being a cancer survivor. Furthermore, she was able to listen to new music which kept her up to speed with what her peers were listening to and allowed her to connect with them socially through the discussion of music. Music performed many functions in Lauren’s case: it acted as a distractor, as well as an emotional regulator, before and during her treatments, while becoming a way to connect with herself and her peers outside of the hospital setting. Through the use of selfselected music, Lauren was able to regulate negative moods, as well as recall old memories that allowed her to connect to herself before cancer treatment. Most importantly, she was able to listen to current music which assisted her in reconnecting


with her peers on a social level and, quite possibly, assisted her in the formation of new memories associated to specific music.

The four cases presented above are meant to provide examples as to how music can be used to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memories in a variety of contexts and are not meant to be a script as to how to utilize music in the specific cases, or with the specific presenting issues. Attention must be paid to the likes and dislikes of each individual, as well as how each person responds to the intervention. Ideally, a music therapist would be called upon to administer in depth musical interventions; however, an educated and ethical clinician at any level can implement passive music listening provided they pay attention to individual preferences and responses to the stimuli. Music can be a powerful tool that requires careful attention to ethical and diversity considerations. Diversity Considerations Individual difference is the rule when considering the likes and dislikes, as well as how one responds, to music. Each person has their own unique optimal arousal level that influences what type and how much of a stimulus is comfortable for them. Typically, individuals who gravitate toward each other often have similar interests in regards to music. Although this may be true, it is imperative to first assess a person on an individual level before making any assumptions about their musical preferences on a cultural level. One’s culture is important to consider, however, when attempting to understand the musical preferences of an individual. Different cultures have different languages, genres, and forms of acceptable music. Although it may be safe to assume that an


individual from an Islamic or even Buddhist background does not listen to American rap music, this may not be the case, especially in a highly diverse cultural melting pot such as the United States. It is always important to assess the musical interests of an individual before implementing, or even suggesting, musical stimuli therapeutically. Age, ability, religion, ethnicity, and even availability of music all influence the preferences of an individual, amongst other things such as exposure and experience. Most people enjoy music from their adolescence and young adulthood; however, this is not always the case. I do not share many of the musical preferences of my friends, especially some of the music that we listened to during high school. Buddhist music differs from Mormon music and the same can be said for most major religions. Latvians listen to music that is extremely different from the music that most people in the United Kingdom enjoy. Those who have a vast collection of music probably differ drastically in their musical preferences compared to those who are more limited, either from exposure, geographic location, or financially. Although it appears there are some categories, such as age, religion, etc., these categories are often a product of social construction. Therefore, musical preference must be assessed on an individual level. It also may be inappropriate to listen to certain music, or to listen to music at certain times. It is probably safe to say that blaring Eminem or gangster rap is not acceptable at a staff meeting, unless it is at a record label. Context plays an important part as to what is appropriate and what is not. The assessment of an individual’s preference, however, remains the bottom line when it comes to musical preference. An individual assessment allows a clinician to avoid offending a patient or potentially alienating them from their social groups. Although I have discussed the potential for music to be used for


the benefit of patients and other individuals, it is always possible for music to be used as a tool for manipulation and control, resulting in adverse consequences. Ethical Considerations Due to the ability of music to elicit and facilitate our memory, as well as our emotions, the misuse of music lies within the realm of possibility. Just as music can be used to access memories for reprocessing and reframing, it could also be used to trigger negative or unwanted memories ad nauseum. Music could also be used for social manipulation and control, inducing the sort of “mob mentality” that is often witnessed at concerts. Untrained clinicians or those unfamiliar with using music in practice are also at risk of either misusing music or being unable to handle situations that may arise through the use of music in a therapeutic setting. If a negative or painful memory is associated with a particular song, the individual is often at the mercy of his or her environment. All attempts can be made to avoid the song, but if another individual is aware of the particular stimulus, they may be able to trigger the unwanted memory. The unsuspecting individual is then at the mercy of the music, as well as the person who is sinister enough to antagonize this individual. A good example comes from A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess (1962) with an adaptation produced, written, and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. The protagonist of the story, Alex, indulges in an adolescence of debauchery, thievery, and other illegal activity. He is eventually caught, charged with murder, and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Alex hears about an experimental technique, called the “Ludovico Technique,” which promises to cure him of his crime-committing ways, along with the addition of an early release from prison.


The technique is a form of aversion therapy, where Alex is conditioned to become nauseous when exposed to violent stimuli. During one of the conditioning sequences, Alex’s favorite song, Beethoven’s 9th, accompanies the violent images. Alex pleads for the song to be removed, but the treatment continues unabated. Alex successfully completes treatment and is set free. Out in the real world, Alex becomes nauseous to any exposure of violence. He runs into some old acquaintances that beat him nearly to death, as he is unable to defend himself or respond at all to the violence. He is found by a man whom he perpetrated before prison. The man locks Alex in a room in his house and, unfortunately for Alex, plays Beethoven’s 9th continuously. Alex experiences such intense nausea from the music that he attempts suicide by throwing himself out of a second story window. It is evident from the aforementioned that music can be used maliciously to torment others in perverse ways. Due to the song being associated with a particular memory or image, any time the song is heard, the images can come up. In Alex’s case, any time the song is heard, along with the images or memories it conjures up, he also experienced the conditioned response of nausea. An example such as this elucidates the potential for music to be used in destructive, unethical, and malicious ways. Sustained exposure to irritating or over-stimulating music could also lead to the manipulation and control at an individual level, as well as on a social level. As mentioned before, each individual has a sensory arousal threshold and surpassing this leads to irritation and a desire to remove, or alter, the incoming stimuli. An example of this would be playing irritating or over-arousing music to break up a rally. As more and more protesters assemble, authorities become more and more vigilant. It would be possible, in


theory, for the authorities to gather up speakers and blast the crowd with irritating sounds or music. The crowd would be faced with the decision to remove themselves from the premises or remove the source of the stimuli. Either way, the potential ramifications and repercussions are not desirable. If the protesters cannot tolerate the noise and decide that they must remove themselves, their first amendment rights to free speech and assembly have been compromised. They have the right to voice their opinion and this has been violated by extremely manipulative means. An alternate decision is to attack the source of the stimuli in attempts to silence it or destroy it, which would probably result in even worse consequences to the protesters and the authorities. A full out riot could break out with violence and bloodshed as a result. Either option is undesirable, but quite possible were sound to be used in this manner. The potential for music to be misused exists on a clinical and professional level as well. Music in the therapeutic setting is often delivered in a controlled manner and provided live by trained music therapists (Vickers & Cassileth, 2001). Music therapists have extensive training, both clinically and academically, in the theory and implementation of music as a treatment modality. Music therapy is ideally provided live by a trained therapist; however, it can also be delivered in the form of recorded music for research or even clinical purposes. Although it is ideal to have a music therapist deliver services, this is not always an option in specific treatment settings. Regardless, the implementation of music as a treatment modality requires one to be familiar with literature, as well as potential complications, that may arise through the therapeutic use of music.


As mentioned throughout this dissertation, music can potentially be used in a myriad of clinical disorders. It has the potential to lead to reframing of memories and reprocessing of negative moods, which can result in healthier, more desired overall functioning. Music, however, has the potential to elicit bad memories and negative moods as well and, if not dealt with by a knowledgeable clinician, can exacerbate existing difficulties. Taking the example of Madison, the young adult with depression above, it is quite possible for an unsuspecting clinician utilizing music to end up with an overwhelming situation (or even suicidality) on their hands. Many pitfalls exist where a naïve clinician could run into clinical and ethical problems, especially those related to the ethical principles of malfeasance and beneficence. The first difficulty could arise in the initial decision to implement music in the first place. A clinician unfamiliar with music as a treatment modality, as well as any other modality they do not have prior experience, academic training, research, or familiarity with, should not be utilizing this particular type of treatment in the first place. A therapist who has no training in hypnotism should not hypnotize, or attempt to hypnotize, their patients; this particular modality of training exists outside of their scope of expertise and would require a referral for a consult if deemed appropriate. The same case goes for music as a therapeutic modality. One does not have to be a music therapist per se to implement the use of recorded music, but must have some training and familiarity with the modality. In fact, recorded music has been used in various medical procedures by various medical professionals familiar with recorded music as an adjunctive treatment (Kwekkeboom, Bumpus, Wanta, & Serlin, 2008;Windich-Biermeier, Sjoberg, Dale, Eshelman, & Guzzetta, 2007). It also would be in the best interest of the clinician to at


least consult with a music therapist when they feel music may be of benefit to their patient, especially when questionable situations arise in session. A major ethical problem that could arise is the results of the application of musical stimuli during treatment sessions. If an individual has an adverse reaction to a memory that is triggered, or even before a memory is triggered, it is imperative that the clinician intervene accordingly. Allowing the patient to suffer through the memory of a long-repressed, troublesome episode without properly intervening (processing, reframing, relaxation, discontinuing the music, etc.) is not only bad practice, but violates the ethical principle of doing no harm. It is necessary for the clinician to respond to the patient in the event of an adverse reaction to the treatment modality applied in order to assuage suffering and restore the individual to at least baseline functioning. Only a clinician who is familiar and knowledgeable in the use, as well as repercussions, of music should implement this form of treatment. A clinician who decides to use music in a therapeutic context must also recognize the ramifications of using music therapeutically that can arise outside of formal sessions. An individual runs the risk of evoking memories in a patient that can turn out to be points of obsession. A memory may be evoked that is so intriguing and mystifying that the individual may ritualistically listen to the specific song in order to trigger, and embellish on, the memory over and over. The slippery slope here is that an individual can become so engrossed and involved with a particular past episode that they sacrifice the here-andnow. A situation like this could result in lower functioning of the individual on a social and occupational level, as well as intrapersonally. It is equally important for the clinician to educate their patients on the potential use and misuse of a treatment, as well as to be


educated and familiar with the specific modality of treatment they themselves are implementing. Precautions in clinical treatment, such as educating one’s patients, can ensure that the patients are well informed and are able to take responsibility for their own treatment. Various ethical considerations need to be considered when implementing any form of psychological treatment. As with most treatments, music has the ability to create joy and happiness, as well as pain and suffering. The possibility exists that a nefarious individual could, in theory, utilize music in order to create more suffering. It is also possible for groups or individuals to utilize music in order to manipulate or control other groups or individuals. Clinicians planning on implementing music in therapy sessions should be familiar with the modality and consult when appropriate. Although an infinite number of situations could arise that call the ethics of practice into question, these potential situations lie outside the scope of this particular dissertation. The ethical considerations discussed in this particular dissertation are meant to address general principles, thus acting to shed light on and familiarize one with some potential problems that could arise. By elucidating some of the potential pitfalls, clinicians, researchers, and other professionals can be better prepared to respond to difficulties that may lie ahead. Concluding Remarks and Future Directions From the time that we are very young, our exposure to different types of music has a very significant impact on the encoding of our autobiographical memories. As we develop our own musical preferences, we shape which music will be tied to specific autobiographical events in our lives. The more often we listen to certain types of music, the chances increase that we will associate this music with a memory. As we get older,


the way we recall memories changes, but the potential for music to have the ability to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memories remains. Music first affects us at a basic arousal level, which is primarily devoid of higher cognitive involvement. Once we are able to tolerate its uniqueness and strangeness, we become familiar with it much the same as anything else that impacts our sensory systems. As we relax and find pleasure in music, we crave it more often and subsequently find ourselves immersed in its universal qualities. We begin to make cognitive appraisals of music, while attaching it to episodes we experience in our lives, so that at a later date we can be reminded of our past by the complexities of a song. We are not mere slaves to our senses and our environments; we can enact our choices and preferences once we are able to think outside of our limitations. Our goals influence what and how we remember, so much so, that they probably influence the music we currently choose to listen to. Also, if a memory is triggered from some external cue in our environment, but we have tasks competing for out current attention, we can choose which way we direct our resources. Sometimes, however, we are unable to wrestle loose from the grip of a highly significant or emotional memory and are put in a position where we must confront the episode. It is during these situations that music, with the help of an educated clinician, can assist us in reframing and reprocessing the autobiographical episode and the memories attached to them. Reframing and reprocessing our memories and emotions can lead to further integration of past experience that allows for us to be more present in the here-and-now, while also allowing us invaluable knowledge in dealing with what is to come.


Music could be a potentially effective intervention for individuals dealing with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, cognitive disorders, medical conditions with comorbid psychological conditions, and other disorders that are based in physiological, cognitive, or affective constructs. Music has the ability to ramp up or decrease physiological arousal, elicit memories that may be contributing to anxiety, posttraumatic stress, or depression, and allow access to memories that may not have been triggered for some time. It can be used as an adjunct to traditional psychological therapy, as well as a component to the multidisciplinary care model emphasized by most medical settings today. As music impacts us on a physiological, emotional, and cognitive level, the uses it has and the settings it can be used in are potentially infinite. Music can be used as a therapeutic agent to shift arousal, alter mood, and allow for reframing of emotion; it can also be the trigger to peak experiences, enhance the operation of neural networks, and potentially boost cognitive functioning. On an aesthetic level, music can be enjoyed for the sake of music, as well as to experience a commonly misunderstood emotion, nostalgia. In the event that music is unfamiliar and cannot be associated to a more familiar song, yet one find the music to be in the optimal arousal level and continues listening, music can be enjoyed for purely aesthetic purposes. As no past experience can be associated and conjured up, one listens to the novel song in the moment as they expand to into the future. An aesthetic experience allows an individual to operate on a level of appreciation, rather than judgment and categorization. By contemplating a song or piece of music, rather than associating it or pairing it with a memory, we can appreciate the complexity and beauty inherent in music.


Music can also bring up feelings of nostalgia, the bitter-sweet emotion that often accompanies our beloved memories. Although nostalgia appears to be a common experience that many people have had, it has been poorly understood throughout much of the literature (Wildschut et al., 2006). Nostalgia is often understood as a mixture of sadness and joy, however, from a musical standpoint, I find nostalgia to be a much more complex emotion in its own right. It can be felt as a longing, as a bitter-sweet sadness, as a fond memory that has passed, or as an experience that we yearn for. The yearning in nostalgia is a different type of yearning, however. Nostalgia is the experience of reflecting on a memory from our past in such a way as to desire it, yet to know that even if we were to re-experience it, it could not be experienced in the same way as it was the first time. Nostalgia is a reflecting, a reprocessing, and a reframing; it is an emotion that is complex and unique to human beings. When I am reminded of some past event that I long for, I am experiencing the recall of the memory, along with the emotion of longing, in the present moment. Part of me acknowledges the fact that it is impossible to go back, to re-experience the episode fully, yet it is important to reflect upon the memory, because it has been transformed in the here-and-now. Diversity and ethical considerations are imperative when utilizing music with human beings, clinically and from a research standpoint. One who is preparing to use music in a clinical or research method must be aware of the pitfalls and problems that could arise from its application. It is also important for an individual to be aware of cultural components when conducting research or using music in a clinical capacity with diverse populations. By ensuring that one has the proper education, understanding, training, and familiarity with an intervention, one is better prepared to deal with


problematic situations, should they arise. Also, by familiarizing oneself with music from many different cultures, one can be well-versed and prepared to use music in diverse populations. Numerous studies could be developed as a result of the theory delineated in this dissertation. The theory I have developed, in the meshing of memory and music, can inform research and practice in regards to music and memory. Further research regarding this theory is imperative, in order to provide validity and credibility to the theory, or to disprove it altogether. As more research is done in regards to this theory, the theory can be modified, edited, revised, discarded, or enhanced. Theories inform us and guide our research and practice; our research and practice provide data as to the validity of a theory. A two-way street exists between the theory and practice that creates constant modifying and shaping of each other. I will now briefly discuss two potential research projects that are informed by this theory and could shed some light as to the appropriateness of this theory once the research is completed. A theory that delineates how music may elicit and facilitate autobiographical memory would be ideal in informing research regarding individuals who have memory difficulties, most notably Alzheimer’s disease and the dementias. If memory can trigger and facilitate autobiographical memory, then perhaps it can be of some use in those who have trouble remembering. A control group of individuals with dementia could be administered a life review, whereas the experimental group would receive background music along with the life review. The results could be analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively in order to assess which group, if any, had more or more detailed memories. Both groups would require a diagnosis of dementia and would be randomized


to one arm of the study. Another spinoff is to compare demographically matched individuals without dementia with the music condition and the no music condition. It would also be interesting to see how individuals with dementia compare to individuals without in regards to the music conditions. The normal “control” group could be administered a life review, whereas the dementia group would receive music along with the life review. Results could compare the amount and quality of information provided in order to assess how much music may improve memory in a life review situation. If music is shown to be beneficial, imagine how many older adults with dementia (or even younger adults with memory problems) could benefit from this intervention! It would also provide the opportunity for caregivers and family members to reconnect with their older counterparts, many who have been disconnected for years due to their memory problems. In conclusion, music has the potential to elicit and facilitate autobiographical memories. It can bring an individual back in time, to a place where a song was associated with a memory, in order to reconnect, reprocess, reframe, or reflect on one’s past. Music impacts physiological, cognitive, and affective processes in the brain in many ways. It can potentially be used in various clinical disorders, as well as new and exciting research. Music is something that is near and dear to almost everyone who comes into contact with it; it can create a sense of well-being, nostalgia, understanding, and connection to our lives. It is the author’s greatest hope that the theory delineated in this dissertation can help inform and guide many researchers and clinicians in the field of music and memory.



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Neuroanatomical Regions and Autobiographical Memory



Entorhinal cortex


Perirhinal cortex


Mammillary bodies Cingulate cortex



Parietal lobes


Prefrontal lobes

Short-term to long-term memory consolidation. Right side involved in personal episodic memory. Left side involved in personal semantic memory Has reciprocal connections with the hippocampus (Hc), Perirhinal cortex (PR), and Parahippocampus (PHc). Relays information between Hc and PHc, PR Has reciprocal connections to the neocortex. Relays information between Entorhinal cortex (ER) and neocortex Has reciprocal connections to the neocortex. Relays information between Entorhinal cortex (ER) and neocortex Encodes emotional significance of incoming information into memory. Integrates and coordinates emotional and motivational activities Responsible for facilitating recollections relying on temporal-spatial information Lies above the Hippocampus; processes spatial content, facilitates attentional modulation to maintain retrieval mode, facilitates re-experiencing of emotions during recollection of autobiographical memories. Also a reward center for food, water, sex, music, and other rewarding stimuli Responsible for familiarity and temporalspatial information. The brain’s primary relay center; relays sensory information to the appropriate cortical areas Influences the autonomic nervous system (ANS), pituitary gland, and endocrine glands. Plays a role in hunger, sleep, thirst, and homeostasis Processes spatial information, mental imagery (when and where an event took place), and coordinates for movement Responsible for cognitive and emotional processing of memory, as well as initiating and monitoring the conscious retrieval of episodic memory Active during the retrieval of positive, negative, stressful and neutral autobiographical memories. Also 117

Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Anterior Medial to Superior Prefrontal Cortex

responsible for converting memory into action and acting as a control operator for processing the narrative stream in autobiographical memory Maintains information in working memory. Evaluates events for emotional significance Responsible for monitoring, operating, and verifying the retrieval representation Self-referential processing

















Neuroanatomical Regions and Musical Processing


Outer Ear Pinna External ear canal Middle Ear Eardrum Malleus (Hammer) Incus (Anvil) Stapes (Stirrup) Oval Window Inner Ear Cochlea Basilar membrane Organ of Corti Temporal lobe Left temporal lobe Right temporal lobe Cerebellum

Catches the wave of pressure and directs it into the external ear canal Amplifies waves from Pinna and directs them toward the ear drum Vibrates as the pressure wave strikes it Conveys and amplifies sound from the eardrum to the oval window Operates same as Malleus Operates same as Incus Sends sound waves to cochlea Fluid-filled, snail-like organ; houses the basilar membrane Lies within fluid in cochlea, holds organ of Corti Site of hair cells which produce the action potential along the auditory nerve Site of primary auditory and secondary auditory cortices Processes temporal resolution of sound (speed and frequency information) Processes spectral resolution of sound (pitch and melodic information) Responsible for motor learning, error detection and sensory integration in musical processing Note changes in pleasantness of music. Also implicated in the long-term memory of music Responsible for the long-term retention of unfamiliar tunes Maintains pitch information in working memory. Monitors tones in temporal order Associated with emotions of joy and happiness Associated with emotions of fear and sadness

Paralimbic regions (Entorhinal cortex, parahippocampus, cingulated cortex) Medial temporal lobe Frontal lobes Left frontal lobe Right frontal lobe
















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