DOI

Emotional events tend to be retained more strongly than other everyday occurrences, a phenomenon partially regulated by the neuromodulatory effects of arousal. Two experiments demonstrated the use of relaxing music as a means of reducing arousal levels, thereby challenging heightened long-term recall of an emotional story. In Experiment 1, participants (N = 84) viewed a slideshow, during which they listened to either an emotional or neutral narration, and were exposed to relaxing or no music. Retention was tested 1 week later via a forced choice recognition test. Retention for both the emotional content (Phase 2 of the story) and material presented immediately after the emotional content (Phase 3) was enhanced, when compared with retention for the neutral story. Relaxing music prevented the enhancement for material presented after the emotional content (Phase 3). Experiment 2 (N = 159) provided further support to the neuromodulatory effect of music by post-event presentation of both relaxing music and non-relaxing auditory stimuli (arousing music/background sound). Free recall of the story was assessed immediately afterwards and 1 week later. Relaxing music significantly reduced recall of the emotional story (Phase 2). The findings provide further insight into the capacity of relaxing music to attenuate the strength of emotional memory, offering support for the therapeutic use of music for such purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220 - 228
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Volume97
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

ID: 2213170