Evaluating the Indirect Effect of Music on Learning: The Arousal Mood Hypothesis

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jim Nelson


Arts and Sciences


Neuropsychology, Psychology of Aesthetics

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date



Music has been shown to influence arousal and mood. A positive mood is associated with better learning, and a medium level of arousal is optimal for learning. Active music therapy has been shown to activate brain clusters involved in memory in the frontal and temporal lobes. Additionally, preferred music has been shown to increase activation of the frontolimbic circuits of the brain that play a role in emotional regulation and, therefore, executive function. Current research has not adequately tested whether preferred music indirectly improves learning by influencing mood/arousal; this study attempts to do so. Fourteen participants are sorted into high- and low- functioning groups using standard measures of executive functioning and creativity. Each group experiences a music condition, where they listen to music that fits their preference, and a non-music condition. Learning is measured via performance on the CVLT-3. Participants are read a word list from the CVLT-3 or RAVLT under each condition and are then asked to recall the word list under silence. This procedure is repeated until the test is complete. Arousal and auditory information are measured physiologically throughout the experiment via frontal and temporal EEG electrode arrays. It was expected that the frontal waves recorded at recall in the music condition would be Beta waves (13-25Hz) due to the participant's alert and attentive state at a medium level of arousal. The frontal waves recorded at recall in the non-music condition, therefore, were expected to be below 13 or above 25Hz. Results of multivariate multiple regression are presented.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Elizabeth Roeglin is a Junior Psychology and Biology major, CC scholar, and aspiring Neuropsychologist. Her mom is a Clinical Psychologist and her dad is an audio systems designer and talented pianist. She is therefore interested in the ties between psychology and music and more specifically the psychology of aesthetics. She is additionally a member of the Valparaiso women's cross country and track teams.

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