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Explore the concept of mnemonics in the recall of verbal stimuli

Find articles by Michael H. McIntosh Find articles by Gerald C. Received 2014 Feb 4; Accepted 2014 May 17. The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.

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Abstract Recent research on music and brain function has suggested that the temporal pattern structure in music and rhythm can enhance cognitive functions. To further elucidate this question specifically for memory, we investigated if a musical template can enhance verbal learning in patients with multiple sclerosis MS and if music-assisted learning will also influence short-term, system-level brain plasticity.

We measured systems-level brain activity with oscillatory network synchronization during music-assisted learning. Specifically, we measured the spectral power of 128-channel electroencephalogram EEG in alpha and beta frequency bands in 54 patients with MS. LRS differed significantly between the music and the spoken conditions in low alpha and upper beta bands. Patients in the music condition showed overall better word explore the concept of mnemonics in the recall of verbal stimuli and better word order memory and stronger bilateral frontal alpha LRS than patients in the spoken condition.

The evidence suggests that a musical mnemonic recruits stronger oscillatory network synchronization in prefrontal areas in MS patients during word learning. Many MS patients have cognitive deficits Borghi et al. Although cognitive impairments in MS were described already in the nineteenth century, not until 2001 standard tests were codified to measure cognitive function in MS Rahn et al. Memory is one of the most prevalent types of cognitive deficit in MS and some memory deficits present in early phases of the disease Gaudino et al.

However, no convincing evidence for effective pharmacological or other treatments for memory impairment in MS does exist He et al. Furthermore, despite new memory test development Camp et al. One major theoretical approach attributes memory deficits in MS to inadequate learning processes DeLuca et al. More important clinically, however, as Rao 1995 has ardently noted for many years, is the lack of treatments for memory dysfunction in MS Bennett et al.

In the past two decades, research has discovered the effectiveness of music as a temporal auditory language in neurorehabilitation Thaut, 2005. Physiological priming Rossignol and Melvill Jones, 1976anticipatory perceptual cue timing, and neural auditory motor entrainment Grahn and Watson, 2013 ; Thaut, 2013 have been proposed among the most prevalent underlying mechanisms.

Music and rhythm intervention techniques c. However, the recognition that timing and sequencing also have a critical function in cognitive abilities Conway et al. Music processing may recruit not only declarative but also more automatic, procedural learning and memory systems that are spared in amnesia. There is considerable evidence that music can also enhance memory for non-musical material Thaut, 2005 ; Ho et al.

Previous evidence has shown that music memory provides access to verbal knowledge in patients with memory disorders Cavaco et al. Specific benefits of musical mnemonic rehearsal over verbal rehearsal when learning non-musical material have been shown with learning disabled and developmentally disabled students Kern et al.

  • Additionally, the melody provides pitch contour cues to which information units can be mapped;
  • Chunking is an important memory strategy because it reduces memory load Gobet et al;
  • Physiological priming Rossignol and Melvill Jones, 1976 , anticipatory perceptual cue timing, and neural auditory motor entrainment Grahn and Watson, 2013 ; Thaut, 2013 have been proposed among the most prevalent underlying mechanisms;
  • Patients in the music condition showed overall better word memory and better word order memory and stronger bilateral frontal alpha LRS than patients in the spoken condition;
  • Bizarre imagery in paired-associate learning;
  • Japanese Psychological Research,27 3 ,154-162.

In a study with autistic children — however without matched controls or a comparable control condition — a structured music listening protocol has shown to enhance a broad range of cognitive functions including memory Bettison, 1996.

However, Maeller 1996 demonstrated that music can improve memory in MS patients, with a trend toward greater improvement associated with severity of the disease.

  1. There are some studies that have investigated neural correlates of non-musical autobiographical recall elicited by music Ford et al.
  2. In the past two decades, research has discovered the effectiveness of music as a temporal auditory language in neurorehabilitation Thaut, 2005. Music training to discriminate pitch produces enhanced plasticity of the N1 and P2 components of the auditory evoked potential AEP Shahin et al.
  3. An effective mnemonic aid with mixed context, delayed testing and self-paced conditions. There is considerable evidence that music can also enhance memory for non-musical material Thaut, 2005 ; Ho et al.

The rhythmic and melodic structure provides a temporal cue for the temporal order and sequencing of information. Additionally, the melody provides pitch contour cues to which information units can be mapped.

The phrase structure of a melody segments information into chunks or single overarching units of information with distinct sound shapes, which is especially important when information units such as words in word lists are unrelated to each other Snyder, 2000 ; Deutsch, 1982.

In such process, several information units become segmented into one learning unit.

Chunking is an important memory strategy because it reduces memory load Gobet et al. Information such as a diatonic pitch scale seven scale tones is much easier to group and encode than data from large alphabets and we are much more likely to retain information from several small alphabets than the same total amount of information from a large alphabet.

  1. Most mnemonic strategies use visual images.
  2. On a related subject, a study that looked into the usefulness of bizarre imagery as a mnemonic aid found that bizarre images were remembered better in the immediate term but not the long term, and only if the images were experienced as part of a mixed list bizarre and non-bizarre items , and the learner could control their pace of learning [4].
  3. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26 4 , 1045-1056. In such process, several information units become segmented into one learning unit.
  4. Most mnemonic strategies use visual images. Table 1 Demographic data of MS participants.

The English language uses 26 letters and up to 40 separate phonemes. Finally, in a well composed musical mnemonic the small tonal alphabet is organized into redundant repetitive and anticipatory units which are easy to remember Snyder, 2000.

Visual Vs Verbal Mnemonic Techniques

By pairing verbal material with a simple melody e. Research on the neural basis of music and memory has mostly focused on musical memory formation. There are some studies that have investigated neural correlates of non-musical autobiographical recall elicited by music Ford et al.

However — despite the emerging behavioral evidence for musical mnemonics to assist in non-musical learning — no research has directly studied so far the neural correlates of non-musical memory training with musical mnemonics. In other areas of brain and behavior function, there is emerging evidence that music modulates brain activity associated with non-musical functions of the nervous system.

For example, we have evidence that rhythmic entrainment can be used for sensorimotor rehabilitation: As another example, musical training evokes brain plasticity during speech perception Kraus and Chandrasekaran, 2010. Therefore, in our study we included an investigation of neural correlates related to brain plasticity during verbal memory training using musical mnemonics.

Plasticity in the functional organization of brain networks is important in recovering verbal learning and memory function after, for example, traumatic brain injury Ricker et al.

Music can play a role in brain plasticity, through both its pitch characteristics Shahin et al. Music training to discriminate pitch produces enhanced plasticity of the N1 and P2 components of the auditory evoked potential AEP Shahin et al.

The temporal structure of music influences the brain oscillations associated with short-term memory for auditory patterns Peterson and Thaut, 2002. In this study, we investigated for the first time in persons with MS whether a musical template for verbal learning not only improves learning and memory but also involves a different pattern of short-term, system-level brain plasticity measured as changes in oscillatory network synchronization.

Given the practical significance of sequencing in verbal information, we specifically investigated whether music would improve learning and memory for ordered word lists.

Subjects showed at least five brain lesions identified via MRI analysis.

Participants were not in an active exacerbation phase at the time of testing and were not treated with pulse-cortical steroids or cognition enhancing AChE inhibitors. All subjects volunteered and provided written, informed consent approved by the institutional review board.

Subjects were randomly assigned by computerized random number generator in concealed allocation to one of the two conditions: Table 1 Demographic data of MS participants: