Visualization of connection between emotion, memory, and music

Using Music to Modulate Emotional Memory

Using Music to Modulate Emotional Memory

Music is a ubiquitous phenomenon in our lives that plays many complex roles—it is not only powerful in affecting emotion, but also evoking memory. In collaboration with the Memory, Affect, and Planning Lab we are designing an EEG and fMRI study to test if music can serve as a contextual trace for old memories, trigger memory reconsolidation, and encourage integration of new memories with old ones. Our aim is to study if this process can transform feelings associated with our prior emotional memories, as well as provide both behavioral and neural evidence in this field where there is currently limited existing data. The 3-day research study involves participants memorizing emotional item sets by crafting short, pseudo-autobiographical episodes while listening to emotional excerpts of music. By then using the music as a cue to reactivate these old memories, followed by memorization of new emotional item sets in a similar manner, we intend to explore how the old emotional memories might be modulated. We hope that our findings facilitate further research into techniques for mood regulation and/or development of EEG neurofeedback interventions for dysfunctional mood disorders.

Headshot of Sophia Mehdizadeh

Sophia Mehdizadeh

Sophia is a member of the Brain Music Lab and is interested in exploring psychophysiological correlates of musical preference, models for musical preference, and individualized experimental design. She enjoys both the creative and clinical applications of her work and is currently working on conducting her first EEG and fMRI study in collaboration with the Memory, Affect, and Planning Lab in the School of Psychology. Her previous work included analyzing behavioral, cardiac, and respiratory data for effects of musical preferences and high-level musical features. Sophia received her bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering along with a music minor from the University of Michigan and has a background in circuit design, signal processing, prototyping, and musical interface design. She aims to pursue a PhD after completing her master’s degree. 



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