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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


JUSTEL, Nadia; O' CONOR, Jaime  y  RUBINSTEIN, Wanda. Modulation of emotional memory through music in older adults: A preliminary study. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2015, vol.32, n.2, pp.247-259. ISSN 1668-7027.

In the last decades, different neuroscientific investigations have shown that emotions can be determinant in memory storage and consolidation. Events with emotional content are remembered more easily than neutral events. There are several factors that could affect memory consolidation for emotional events, strengthening or deteriorating them. Stress is one of them, since investigations indicate that moderate levels of stress improve the memory of emotional events, while high or low levels have the opposite effect (Justel, Psyrdellis, & Ruetti, 2013, 2014). Multiple studies showed that the exposition to different musical pieces could modulate memory. Activating music, both positive and negative valence, increases de levels of arousal and strengthen memory consolidation (Judde & Rickard, 2010), while relaxing music has the opposite effect and deteriorate the capacity of emotional memory (Rickard, Wing Wong, & Velik, 2012). However, there are not studies with older adults. The goal of this study was to evaluate how different musical pieces, arousing and relaxing ones, modulate memory consolidation in older adults. 27 participants were included, divided in three groups. 12 slides with emotional content and 12 neutral were presented in a computer, selected from the International Affective Picture System (Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 1995). The older adults watched the emotional and neutral images, and evaluated the arousal /emotionality degree of the images as they filled in a table of five choices, from not exciting to very exciting. According to the assignment group, they were exposed to different musical stimuli: activating or relaxing music for the experimental groups or white noise in the control group. The auditive stimulies were selected according to the previous literature. For the activating musical stimuli, Symphony No. 70 in D major of Joseph Haydn was chosen (Kreutz, Ott, Teichmann, Osawa, & Vaitl, 2008); for the relaxing musical stimuli, Pachebel's canon in D major was chosen (Knight & Rickard, 2001); for the control stimuli, white noise was chosen (Rickard et al., 2012). Then free recall and recognition test were performed, immediately and deferred (one week later). In free recall, each subject briefly listed the images he remembered, mentioning them with a word or a short sentence. For the recognition test, the 24 images were mixed up with 24 new images, and the participants had to indicate if they had seen each image or not, as they filled in a table. Regarding to the evaluation of the arousal / emotionality degree of the images, the results indicate that older adults, no matter the group, punctuated the emotional images as more activating tan neutral images, consolidating, as other studies, the validity and reliability of IAPS. The participants exposed to relaxing music had a worse performance in free recall and recognition, compared with the other two groups. On the other hand, it was expected that participants exposed to activating music have a better performance in free recall and recognition test. In free recall, both immediate and deferred, there is a tendency for the activating group to perform better than the control group, but no significant statistical data was found. Regarding to the recognition test, both immediate and deferred, no significant differences were found between the activating and the control groups. This may be because the sample was formed by a reduced number of participants, but if the sample is extended, the results may change. These results allow to conclude that music modulate the consolidation of visual emotional memory in older adults, being music a useful tool in memory stimulation and a possible therapeutic resource for patients with memory dysfunctions.

Palabras clave : Memory; Music; Emotion; Modulation; Older adults.

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