Sound and Memory Recall 101: How Does One Affect the Other?

The impact of sound on the way in which we store and retrieve memories has long been an area of study for neuroscientists for decades. While there is still much to be studied and understood, here are a few interesting facts about the relationship between sound and memory recall. We’re going to specifically look at echoic memory, the ability of the human brain to store audio information. 

The Power of Sound and Memory Recall

Sound and memory have a fascinating relationship. We already know we form an emotional connection with specific sounds — music in particular. And those emotions act as the primary foundation for our memories. But why does music so strongly influence what we remember? 

Part of the reason might be that music often plays a prominent role in our daily routines and also marks special occasions and important seasons and events (think holiday music). Music is therefore critical in the construction of autobiographical or episodic memories.

Here’s how it works:

The creation of an episodic memory requires two key ingredients. First, our brains need to absorb our surroundings, taking stock of — and recognizing — all the things that are actually happening, like driving to work or playing chess in the park. That’s the episode. Second, it needs to store all this information and make the memory so we can recall the events at a later time.

Sound enriches our lives and gives greater meaning to our experiences. Just imagine what it would feel like to watch a movie with all the sound ripped out. Would Star Wars feel as epic and powerful without John Williams’ familiar score? Probably not.

This is why sound therapy can be enormously beneficial for older adults living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Sounds can calm anxious minds and improve moods. 

At The Moments, we understand the power of sound — both to calm and soothe, as well as to overwhelm and agitate. We factored in the power of sound when designing our community buildings and developing programs for our residents, creating numerous opportunities for residents to enjoy soothing sounds via music, musical therapy, pleasant white noise and more. We also used building methods and acoustic strategies to diminish sounds and volumes that might irritate residents. It’s all about our tireless efforts to make The Moments a wonderful place to call home. 

Learn more about the relationship between sound and memory.

Published On: July 18, 2022