Can music improve memories in patients with brain damage?

By Amy
$1,950
Raised
130%
Funded on 10/18/13
Successfully Funded
  • $1,950
    pledged
  • 130%
    funded
  • Funded
    on 10/18/13

About This Project

People who have suffered brain injuries can often lose their memories - a loss that can be distressing to both patients and caregivers. Notably, music is often strongly intertwined with one's personal memories - the first dance at your wedding, your mother's favorite song, or the lullaby you sang to your children.
Music is well known to spark vivid memories, and songs are often associated with events of our lives. I will leverage these phenomena to develop ways to treat neurological patients (e.g, Alzheimer's disease, stroke) and improve their quality of life.

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What is the context of this research?

Almost everyone can think of a certain song that conjures up a specific memory from their lifetime. For me, one such song is "Beautiful Savior," which reminds me of singing in my first Christmas Festival at St. Olaf College - the lights dimmed, the audience in front of me, and the voices of the choirs all around me. We have all experienced the power of music and it's ability to take us back to moments in our lives.
I want to investigate how music is connected to memories and how it can improve memories in patients with brain damage. I predict that music will evoke richer, more vivid, more emotional, and overall more personally significant memories.

See below to learn more about the experimental design!

What is the significance of this project?

Music is an inherent, important aspect of human life - people of all cultures, religions, and eras have used music to enhance their lives. While it may seem apparent that music is intimately tied to our personal, autobiographical memories, there has been very little research investigating this idea.

Since music seems so intimately connected to our most memorable life events, music may be a powerful tool to help patients retrieve personally significant memories.

What are the goals of the project?

In order to study patients with brain damage, we must recruit and bring these patients into our lab. These participants graciously provide their time, attention, and skills towards our research projects. Some participants travel across the state, region, or country to participate in our research. Since their participation is so crucial to the success of our research, 100% of the funding for this project will be used to compensate them. In this way, you are directly giving back to those who may most benefit from this research!

Stretch Goal: If I surpass my goal, my "stretch" goal will be an additional $1,300. Additional funds will be used to
recruit more brain-damaged participants. It costs on average $125 per participant, so the more money I raise the more patients I will be able to study. Additionally, a small portion of the funds will be used to purchase an audio recorder to record the patients descriptions of their memories.

Budget

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As our participants are the central aspect to this research study, the entire budget will go towards compensating our participants.

Meet the Team

Amy
Amy
Postdoctoral Associate

Affiliates

Postdoc, Psychology, New York University - 2015 - present

Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Iowa - 2015

B.A., Psychology, St. Olaf College - 2010

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Team Bio

I am a fourth-year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa, as well as a pianist, singer, and life-long music lover.

Before coming to Iowa, I received my B.A. in Psychology at St. Olaf College where I also studied piano and sang in the St. Olaf Cantorei.

I have always been passionate about music as well as science, and I truly believe that music engages the brain unlike any other stimulus can. Humans have such a strong connection to music - music can uplift one's spirits or bring one to tears. Through my research I want to uncover how individuals with brain damage are affected by music, and how they can harness the power of music to positively affect their lives.

Amy

I am a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Psychology at New York University, as well as a pianist, singer, and life-long music lover.

Before coming to NYU, I received my Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa and my B.A. in Psychology at St. Olaf College where I also studied piano and sang in the St. Olaf Cantorei.

I have always been passionate about music as well as science, and I truly believe that music engages the brain unlike any other stimulus can. Humans have such a strong connection to music - music can uplift one's spirits or bring one to tears. Through my research I want to uncover how individuals with brain damage are affected by music, and how they can harness the power of music to positively affect their lives.

Additional Information

For my experimental task, participants will listen to musical clips and report any autobiographical memories in response to the music. The musical stimuli will be songs from the Billboard Top 100 pop charts. Each participant will hear songs selected from the years when they were between the ages of 15-30. For example, a 35 year old participant would hear songs that were popular during the years 1993-2008, such as No Scrubs or In Da Club. As a control task, participants will view images that are also taken from that same time period and respond with any evoked memories.

The memory descriptions will then be coded based on the number of episodic details in each memory. Episodic details include the specific time, place, people, feelings, and perceptions that are involved in a memory. Memories with more episodic details are therefore more vivid, fuller memories. Non-episodic details are details that are not directly related to the memory itself. The main analysis of interest will be comparing the amount of episodic details in the music-evoked memories to those in the face-evoked memories. I predict that, in normal healthy adults as well as patients with memory impairments, music will result in more detailed, vivid memories.


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  • 56Backers
  • 130%Funded
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