Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Jessica Grahn


This thesis examined whether the effect of music on memory is attributable to musical mood, musical arousal, context, or some combination of these factors. In Experiment 1, participants performed a face-name paired-association task while music was played in the background. In Experiment 2, the perceptual context (Experiment 2A) and emotional context (Experiment 2B) of music was examined more thoroughly. Experiment 3 examined whether the context effect of musical mood and musical arousal occurs in a recall task (Experiment 3A), a recognition task (Experiment 3B), and an association task (Experiment 3C). The results showed that low arousal music enhanced memory while high arousal music lowered memory, particularly when arousal was paired with negative mood. This effect was most robust when the context at study and at test was similar. The results suggested that musical mood and musical arousal affects different stages of learning and memory performance.