Emotion effects on implicit and explicit musical memory in normal aging

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Abstract

Normal aging affects explicit memory while leaving implicit memory relatively spared. Normal aging also modifies how emotions are processed and experienced, with increasing evidence that older adults (OAs) focus more on positive information than younger adults (YAs). The aim of the present study was to investigate how age-related changes in emotion processing influence explicit and implicit memory. We used emotional melodies that differed in terms of valence (positive or negative) and arousal (high or low). Implicit memory was assessed with a preference task exploiting exposure effects, and explicit memory with a recognition task. Results indicated that effects of valence and arousal interacted to modulate both implicit and explicit memory in YAs. In OAs, recognition was poorer than in YAs; however, recognition of positive and high-arousal (happy) studied melodies was comparable. Insofar as socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) predicts a preservation of the recognition of positive information, our findings are not fully consistent with the extension of this theory to positive melodies since recognition of low-arousal (peaceful) studied melodies was poorer in OAs. In the preference task, YAs showed stronger exposure effects than OAs, suggesting an age-related decline of implicit memory. This impairment is smaller than the one observed for explicit memory (recognition), extending to the musical domain the dissociation between explicit memory decline and implicit memory relative preservation in aging. Finally, the disproportionate preference for positive material seen in OAs did not translate into stronger exposure effects for positive material suggesting no age-related emotional bias in implicit memory. (PsycINFO Database Record

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Narme, P., Peretz, I., Strub, M. L., & Ergis, A. M. (2016). Emotion effects on implicit and explicit musical memory in normal aging. Psychology and Aging, 31(8), 902–913. https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000116

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