Laura FERRERI Seminar - Thursday september 12th 2013 at 10:30 - Campus Dijon, Pôle AAFE, salle 101

Published: 10 sept. 13, 09:31 in Seminars.


Doctorante, LEAD CNRS UMR 5022

Université de Bourgogne


« Investigating effects of music on cognitive functions using fNIRS »


Listening to music engages the whole brain, thus stimulating cognitive performance in a range of non-purely musical activities such as language and memory tasks. This talk specifically addresses the ongoing debate on the link between music and memory for words. While evidence on healthy and clinical populations suggests that music listening can improve verbal memory in various situations, it is still unclear which specific memory processes are affected and how. Furthermore, since music is gaining acceptance as a tool for rehabilitation, monitoring the effects of music on brain using non-invasive and ecological settings has become crucial. Using non-invasive settings, we test the hypothesis that music specifically benefits to verbal memory tasks by providing particularly rich supporting context during episodic encoding. We first behaviorally explored the idea that a musical background during encoding of words, as compared to silence and environmental sounds, improves participants’ recognition performance. In a further study, we deepened this question by monitoring the prefrontal cortex with functional Near-InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS), an optical neuroimaging technique able to non-invasively detect the different absorption spectra of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin in cortical brain tissue. Both behavioral and functional NIRS studies confirm an important role of music for memory processes, showing that background music context during the encoding of verbal material can modulate the activation of the prefrontal cortex and, at the same time, facilitate retrieval. These findings open new perspectives about music as a tool for rehabilitation in memory deficits and motivate further research especially in populations with frontal lobe dysfunctions, as it occurs in Alzheimer’s disease.

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