Why Music Helps You Memorise Items

Why Music Helps You Memorise Items

If primary school has taught us anything, it’s that turning a list of items into a song is a great way to remember things. That same basic process works just as well in adulthood, and The Wall Street Journal explains why.

Photo by H. Micael Karshis.

As you’d probably expect, music helps us memorise items using rhythm and alliteration. The Wall Street Journal explains:

The hippocampus and the frontal cortex are two areas in the brain associated with memory and they process millions of pieces of information every day. Getting the information into those areas is relatively easy, says Dr. [Henry L.] Roediger. What is difficult is pulling data out efficiently. Music, he says, provides a rhythm, a rhyme and often, alliteration. All that structure is the key to unlocking information stored in the brain — with music acting as a cue, he says.

So, what can you actually do with that information? Dr. Roediger suggests just using a sequence of rhyming mnemonics that we’ve seen before:

Dr. Roediger remembers large sequences of information by using a common number-rhyming mnemonic that goes, “one is a gun, two is a shoe, three is a tree, etc.” He puts an image of whatever he needs to remember along with an image of the word associated with the number in the rhyme. “So if one is a ball, I’ll picture a gun shooting a ball. If two is a chair, I’ll imagine a shoe sitting on a chair, and so on.”

With that, you should be able to remember just about anything. Head over to The Wall Street Journal for more info about how rhymes and rhythms helps us memorize things.

Why Does Music Aid in Memorization? [The Wall Street Journal]

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