Distracting music may trip up older memories

Published: April, 2015

Distracting background music could make certain memory tasks more challenging for aging brains, suggests a study in The Gerontologist. The study involved one group of participants ages 18 to 30 and another ages 60 to 75. They studied images of faces paired with names on a computer screen, either in silence or while listening to instrumental music. Later they had to recall the name-face pairs while listening to music.

The music had no effect on test scores in the younger people. In contrast, the older people remembered 10% fewer names learned when listening to background music, compared with studying in silence.

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