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I believe in yesterday

Maggio 2017
La musica aiuta a ricordare, lo dice la scienza. L’esperimento è stato semplice: chiedere alle persone di parlare del proprio passato, mentre ascoltavano le canzoni dei Beatles. Il risultato? Ricordi più minuziosi che mai, ricchi dei dettagli più insoliti.

di John O’Reilly © British Council

File audio:

Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

Most people can remember important news stories clearly, whether it was the murder of President Kennedy or the events of 9/11. But now, psychologists Professor Martin Conway and Dr Catriona Morrison, from the University of Leeds, are investigating how music can create “autobiographical memory” of the main events in our lives. The study is online. People must choose a song by The Beatles, and describe the memories that they have when they listen to it. 


Dr Morrison explains that they looked at different age groups and their memories. We often remember more from when we are teenagers, and this is called “the reminiscence bump.” This is the time in your life when you form your idea of who you are. For older people who have memories related to The Beatles’ music, most of those memories are from when they were teenagers. But younger people also had a very strong response, and had vivid personal memories from their past.

She loves you

This study was different from other memory studies, because people remembered events from their past with a lot more detail. Morrison explains: “It was like people had travelled back to the past, and they had very clear memories of things that had happened. When they heard a song like “She Loves You” by The Beatles, they could remember one night in autumn 1963. They remembered what they were wearing, what the weather was like and what their friend said to them. You get a lot more information than if you just say ‘tell me about a night you remember’.”

in the future

The study has found that music could be used with people who have problems remembering the past. “You could use music to help improve people’s ability to remember,” says Morrison. “In the future, we would like to do more experiments to see how useful music is in helping people to remember the past, and compare it to other things that might also help.”

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