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Empirical Musicology Review

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The present study investigated a possible link between musical training and immediate memory span by testing experienced musicians and three groups of musically inexperienced subjects (gymnasts, Psychology 101 students, and video game players) on sequence memory and word familiarity tasks. By including skilled gymnasts who began studying their craft by age six, video game players, and Psychology 101 students as comparison groups, we attempted to control for some of the ways skilled musicians may differ from participants drawn from the general population in terms of gross motor skills and intensive experience in a highly skilled domain from an early age. We found that musicians displayed longer immediate memory spans than the comparison groups on auditory presentation conditions of the sequence reproductive span task. No differences were observed between the four groups on the visual conditions of the sequence memory task. These results provide additional converging support to recent findings showing that early musical experience and activity-dependent learning may selectively affect verbal rehearsal processes and the allocation of attention in sequence memory tasks.


This article was originally published in Empirical Musicology Review, 2008, Volume 3, Issue 4. All rights reserved.

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