Do Musicians Have Enhanced Visual Memory?

  • Kaitlin Ritchie MacEwan University


The proposed study will explore the possible associations between music training and visual memory. Previous research has indicated that musicians have superior auditory memory, academic achievement, and linguistic abilities compared to non-musicians, however the conclusions regarding visual memory in musicians are not as clear. Some research has suggested no correlation between music training and visual memory abilities, while other researchers have found enhanced visual memory in musicians. These null findings regarding visual memory in musicians may be a result of the tasks used, as some tasks involve motor or verbal components. We hypothesize that if tasks measuring purely visual memory are used, musicians will score higher on these tasks than non-musicians. Moreover, when we control for IQ, these differences should disappear. This would suggest the possibility of pre-existing differences between those who decide to take music lessons and those who do not. Carefully selected tasks will be used to assess visual memory, with special attention focused on finding tasks which are a pure measure of visual memory abilities. One example of a task that will be used is the Faces subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale, which requires a participant to memorize a group of faces before being asked to pick them out of a new group of faces. This will be the first comprehensive assessment of visual memory in musicians.

Discipline: Psychology (Honours)

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kathleen Corrigall