Study: Musicians perform better than non-musicians on working-memory tests

Posted on: November 1, 2017

“If your ability to analyze situations and solve problems suggests your working memory is particularly sharp, you might want to thank your music teacher—or the parent who pushed you to learn an instrument,” writes Tom Jacobs in Thursday’s (10/26) Pacific Standard (Santa Barbara, CA). “A new meta-study concludes musicians tend to have stronger short-term and working-memory skills than their non-musical counterparts. The research [was] published in the online journal PLoS One.… ‘Musicians perform better than non-musicians in memory tasks,’ writes a research team led by University of Padua psychologist Francesca Talamini. The Italian … researchers analyzed 29 studies conducted between 1987 and 2016…. The researchers found ‘a slight superiority of musicians over non-musicians’ in long-term memory tasks, and a larger one in both short-term and working-memory tasks…. Not surprisingly, musicians performed best on working-memory tasks involving ‘tonal stimuli,’ but their ‘advantage extended to verbal stimuli, too.’ … Talamini and her colleagues … concede it is possible that people with better memories choose to become musicians, but … a more likely explanation involves ‘the multi-sensorial nature of music training.’ ‘Learning to play a musical instrument involves associating the music notation with the sound of the notes, and the motor response,’ they write.”

Posted November 1, 2017