Essay: New Aged Music and Memory Retention

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This chapter presents previous studies on New Aged Music and

Memory Retention. This review of related literature will provide a support on

whether Steven Halpern on New Aged Music has a significant effect on

Memory Retention.

New Age Music

“Music is good for you. You learn best when you’re relaxed. Your

creation of optimal sound from the environment for learning can help you

retain and recall information more effectively. The music becomes transparent

and non-distracting as it orchestrates your whole brain learning”. – Steven

Halpern (2012) as cited from


The dictionaries on music as cited by Etino, (2015) define new age

music as a compositions produced by the new age movement that is

conducive to meditation. Usually new age music is produced by layering

sounds over sounds to produce a deep, many-faceted wave of music. Often

natural such as waves, rain, birds, wind, etc. are use in the production of this


music. Often the sounds are soothing and mellow and almost religious in


However, according to the Collins E.D. (2012) as cited by William

Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., HarperCollins (2012), it is also a type of gentle

melodic popular music originating in the US in the late 1980s, which takes in

elements of jazz, folk, and classical music and is played largely on

synthesizers and acoustic instruments.

In addition to the Collins E.D. new age music was born from an

aesthetic that aims to induce a sense of inner calm; new age music emerged

from the meditational and holistic fields. Generally, these are harmonious and

nonthreatening albums that are allied with new age philosophies encouraging

spiritual transcendence and physical healing. Some of these albums are

artistically satisfying as well as therapeutic. Lesser musicians, however, often

make ridiculous claims in the liner notes as to their ability to catapult listeners

into advanced spiritual states through specially designed sonic vibrations and

“immaculately conceived” musical ideas.

Today, student life is more on modern technology and listening to music

for therapeutic purposes is very accessible. Most adolescent today consider

music as the universal language because is meaning and appeal are largely

similar for people everywhere. Furthermore, listening to music can also exert

on heart rate, skin conductance, blood pressure respiration and the release of


the neurochemicals this is based on the study of Maglione (2006) as cited in

Karimnia &Lari n.d. (2006).

Moreover, using music as intervention according to Keegan (2001) as

cited by Etino, (2015), also has two branches; first active music intervention

with prefers to the utilization of the instrument on one’s own voice is structured

to corresponds to all sensory organs to obtain suitable motor and emotional

responses. And secondly, the passive branch which is listening to specific

music is done in order to relax, stimulate and soothe the body as well as the


In another instance, there are different styles of music according to

Chlan (1998) as cited by Etino, (2015) it can be a new age, classical,

orchestra, jazz, popular and country. Music also can be as slow and relaxing

or fast and arousing. Chlan (1998), of varying tempos in symphonies and

concertos, and new age music assimilate synthesize music and sound from


Furthermore, Don Campbell (1997) as cited by Etino, (2015) stated that

music can affect the brain organization and abilities through its melody and

rhythm. Music is suitable to high school students as they may find themselves

listening to music while stimulating their brain for relaxation before or after

spending time in working for homework, studying for an exam or for an

employee working on desk.


Moreover using music as intervention according to Keegan (2001 as

cited by Etino, 2015), also has two branches; first active music intervention

with prefers to the utilization of the instrument on one’s own voice is structured

to corresponds to all sensory organs to obtain suitable motor and emotional

responses. And secondly, the passive branch which is listening to specific

music is done in order to relax, stimulate and soothe the body as well as the


However, according to Chlan (1998) as cited by Etino, (2015) new age

music is assimilated synthesized music and sound from nature new age music

has its own beneficial effect on human body and mind According to Weber

(2008 as cited in Etino, 2015) New age music such as Steven Halpern has no

dominant rhythm and it and it elongates the sense of space and time, included

a state of relaxed alertness.

Aksnes, H. (2000 as cited by Baroquillo, 2012). Music cognition

involves an inconceivable amount of heterogeneous associations that will

contribute to the import of meaning no matter which aspect of cognition a

listener chooses to focus. Although we pay attention to only one or a few

things at a time, our understanding of what we are paying attention to is partly

determined by aspects of cognition that we are not aware of at the time. The

thalamus and the basal ganglia are the areas of the brain responsible for the

direction of attention. They are tightly connected with the limbic system and


frontal cortices responsible for emotions. We tend to direct our attention

towards that which means the most to us personally.

Moreover, according to classical Chlan (1998 as cited by Etino, 2015)

Classical music and new age music is different. New age music is assimilated

synthesized music and sound from nature new age music has its own

beneficial effect on human body and mind according to Weber (2008) new age

music such as Steven Halpern has no dominant rhythm and it and it elongates

the sense of space and time, included a state of relaxed alertness. New age

music of Steven Halpern can lead people to feel relaxed both of their mind and


Actually, music has a long and rich history, and much has been written

about notable pedagogues of the past, both in the history of Western music

and in the histories of other cultures Shehan Campbell (2001, as cited in Etino,

2015). There is a wealth of data in cognitive science, behavioral science,

physiology, kinesiology, and neuroscience that contributes to our

understanding of the processes of music learning. Much of this research is

somewhat inaccessible to teachers and other musicians because of its high

degree of specialization. The difficulties in defining expert behavior precisely

are not unique to music teaching, of course; the same challenges confront

those who attempt to capture the nature of expertise in the music discipline.


On the other hand, Steven Halpern (2012) as cited in Etino, 2015)

considered as the pioneer of the new age music and developed brain wave

entertainment music. Entertainment refers to the phenomenon in which a

stronger external rhythmic stimulus (or oscillating, pulsing system), measured

in beats per minute, causes a weaker system (heart) to synchronize to its

rhythm. In addition people’s brain responds automatically to sounds in the beat

per second rage. Rhythmic spectrum is measured in to two aspects. First, it is

measured in beats per minute and it effect on our physical body and

heartbeat. Second, in electrical entertainment and its effect on our brain waves

which are measured by waves per second.

In another instance, the following are types of Steven Halpern’s new

age music: The relaxing music, the music for mindfulness silence, the sound

healing, brainwave entrainment, music for meditation, music for massage,

spoken word with music, and music for learning lastly Steven Halpern (2012)

as cited from This

following type of new age music by Halpern can reduce stress, enhanced

people’s meditations, and enjoys optimal well-being and better

sleep. However, the relaxing music, brain entrainment and the music for

learning can be useful in the improvement of memory retention.


Memory Retention

The following are previous studies on memory retention. It contains a

definition and type of memory retention from different authors; also it contains

the characteristics of people who have high, average, and low memory


Cognitive psychologist identifies three common operations of memory

(.i.e. encoding, storage, and retrieval). Encoding refers to the transformation of

sensory information in to mental representation. In storage, we keep encoded

information in our memory and in retrieval; we simply pull out that information

stored in the memory (Sternberg, 2009 as cited by Etino, 2015). In fact as a

person reassesses their past experiences and utilizes that information to

present situation, they are using their memory.

In addition, Spring (2001) as cited by Tom Yin, (2013) whether it is a

child working on their homework, a college student studying for an exam, or an

adult working at their desk; they may find themselves listening to music while

stimulating their brain. It is then that the question arises of how the human

brain functions in the presence of music, and how music is able to affect

retention of memory. There are two major temporal classifications of memory:

long-term memory and working (or short-term) memory. Long-term memory

can last for days, weeks, or even years depending on the event and its

associations. Working memory lasts for a few minutes and is easily forgotten


due to the limited capacity it has. The fundamental difference between longterm

and working memory is that protein synthesis is required for long-term

memory, and they are similar in the fact that repetition enhances all types of


However, there are some additional type of memory by Matthew

MacDonald (Pogue Press/O’Reilly, 2008) What we usually think of as

“memory” in day-to-day usage is actually long-term memory, but there are also

important short-term and sensory memory processes, which must be worked

through before a long-term memory can be established. On Matthew

MacDonald’s book “Your Brain: The Missing Manual” he elaborated

specifically the following types of memory:

Firstly, Sensory memory is the shortest-term element of memory. It is

the ability to retain impressions of sensory information after the original stimuli

have ended. It acts as a kind of buffer for stimuli received through the five

senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are retained accurately,

but very briefly. For example, the ability to look at something and remember

what it looked like with just a second of observation is an example of sensory

memory. The stimuli detected by our senses can be either

deliberately ignored, in which case they disappear almost instantaneously,

or perceived, in which case they enter our sensory memory. This does not

require any conscious attention and, indeed, is usually considered to be totally


outside of conscious control. The brain is designed to only process information

that will be useful at a later date, and to allow the rest to pass by unnoted. As

information is perceived, it is therefore stored in sensory

memory automatically and unbidden. Unlike other types of memory, the

sensory memory cannot be prolonged via rehearsal. Sensory memory is an

ultra-short-term memory and decays or degrades very quickly, typically in the

region of 200 – 500 milliseconds (1/5 – 1/2 second) after the perception of an

item, and certainly less than a second (although echoic memory is now

thought to last a little longer, up to perhaps three or four seconds). Indeed, it

lasts for such a short time that it is often considered part of the process

of perception, but it nevertheless represents an essential step for storing

information in short-term memory.

Secondly, Short-term memory acts as a kind of “scratch-pad” for

temporary recall of the information which is being processed at any point in

time, and has been referred to as “the brain’s Post-it note”. It can be thought of

as the ability to remember and process information at the same time. It holds a

small amount of information (typically around 7 items or even less) in mind in

an active, readily-available state for a short period of time (typically from 10 to

15 seconds, or sometimes up to a minute).

Thirdly, long-term memory encodes information for

storage semantically (i.e. based on meaning and association). However, there


is also some evidence that long-term memory does also encode to some

extent by sound. For example, when we cannot quite remember a word but it

is “on the tip of the tongue”, this is usually based on the sound of a word, not

its meaning. Physiologically, the establishment of long-term memory involves

a process of physical changes in the structure of neurons (or nerve cells) in

the brain, a process known as long-term potentiation, although there is still

much that is not completely understood about the process. At its simplest,

whenever something is learned, circuits of neurons in the brain, known

as neural networks, are created, altered or strengthened. Over the years,

several different types of long-term memory have been distinguished,

including explicit, declarative and procedural memory (with a further subdivision

of declarative into episodic and semantic memory) and retrospective

and prospective memory.

However, Long-term memory is often divided into two further main

types: explicit (or declarative) memory and implicit (or procedural) memory.

Declarative memory (“knowing what”) is memory of facts and events, and

refers to those memories that can be consciously recalled (or “declared”). It is

sometimes called explicit memory, since it consists of information that is

explicitly stored and retrieved, although it is more properly a subset of explicit

memory. Declarative memory can be further sub-divided into episodic

memory and semantic memory. Procedural memory (“knowing how”) is

the unconscious memory of skills and how to do things, particularly the use of


objects or movements of the body, such as tying a shoelace, playing a guitar

or riding a bike. These memories are typically acquired through repetition and

practice, and are composed of automatic sensorimotor behaviors that are so

deeply embedded that we are no longer aware of them. Once learned, these

“body memories” allow us to carry out ordinary motor actions more or less

automatically. Procedural memory is sometimes referred to as implicit

memory, because previous experiences aid in the performance of a task

without explicit and conscious awareness of these previous experiences,

although it is more properly a subset of implicit memory.

Moreover, declarative memory can be further sub-divided into episodic

memory and semantic memory. Episodic memory represents our memory

of experiences and specific events in time in a serial form, from which we can

reconstruct the actual events that took place at any given point in our lives. It

is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions

and other contextual knowledge) that can be explicitly stated. Individuals tend

to see themselves as actors in these events, and the emotional charge and

the entire context surrounding an event is usually part of the memory, not just

the bare facts of the event itself. Semantic memory, on the other hand, is a

more structured record of facts, meanings, concepts and knowledge about the

external world that we have acquired. It refers to general factual knowledge,

shared with others and independent of personal experience and of the

spatial/temporal context in which it was acquired. Semantic memories may


once have had a personal context, but now stand alone as simple knowledge.

It therefore includes such things as types of food, capital cities, social

customs, functions of objects, vocabulary, understanding of mathematics, etc.

Both episodic memory and semantic memory require a

similar encoding process. However, semantic memory mainly activates

the frontal and temporal cortexes, whereas episodic memory activity is

concentrated in the hippocampus, at least initially.

Lastly, an important alternative classification of long-term memory used

by some researchers is based on the temporal direction of the memories.

Retrospective memory is where the content to be remembered (people, words,

events, etc.,) is in the past, i.e. the recollection of past episodes. It includes the

semantic, episodic memory, autobiographical memory, and declarative

memory in general, although it can be either explicit or implicit. Prospective

memory is where the content is to be remembered in the future, and may be

defined as “remembering to remember” or remembering to perform an

intended action. It may be either event-based or time-based, often triggered by

a cue, such as going to the doctor (action) at 4pm (cue), or remembering to

post a letter (action) after seeing a mailbox (cue). Clearly, though,

retrospective and prospective memories are not entirely independent entities,

and certain aspects of retrospective memory are usually required for

prospective memory. Thus, there have been case studies where an impaired

retrospective memory has caused a definite impact on prospective memory.


However, there have also been studies where patients with an impaired

prospective memory had an intact retrospective memory, suggesting that to

some extent the two types of memory involve separate processes.

Furthermore, failure to anyone of this kind of memory can be a cause of

forgetfulness. According to Myer (2006 as cited by Etino, 2015), damage to

the medial temporal lobe hippocampus can severely damage the ability to

acquire new declarative memory. In addition to this, damage to the storage

areas in the cortex can disrupt retrieval of old memories and interfere with

acquisition of new memories.

Glenda Thorne (2006) as cited from

(2009) stated that students who have high memory retention are: Students

who are encourage to repeat the directions given and explain the meaning of

these directions, students who are taught to use visual images and other

memory strategy in memorization, active readers students, students who

provide retrieval practice, students who have cues when storing information,

and students who are reviewing their materials before going to sleep.

In addition, According to Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and

Robert Segal, M.A. (2016 cited at

memory/age-related-memory-loss.htm, 2016) Walking is an easy way to fight

memory loss. New research indicates that people who walk six to nine miles


every week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss. According to the

American Academy of Neurology, older adults who walked between six and

nine miles per week had more gray matter in their brains nine years after the

start of the study than people who didn’t walk as much. Also regular exercise

boosts brain growth factors and encourages the development of new brain

cells. Exercise also reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss,

such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also makes a

difference in managing stress and alleviating anxiety and depression—all of

which leads to a healthier brain and high memory retention.

Moreover, Riby, L.M., Marriott, A., Bullock, R., Hancock, J., Smallwood,

J., McLaughlin, J. (2008, cited in Jennifer Gibson, PharmD June 26, 2008)

People who had moderate increases in blood glucose had enhanced shortterm

memory performance and cognitive functioning across an array of

domains, but while their little glucose is good, too much can be bad. Sustained

elevations in blood sugar levels, as seen in conditions including impaired

glucose tolerance and diabetes, lead to a decline in cognitive functioning.

Simply, people with the longer glucose remains in the blood, the less fuel the

brain has to function and retain memories. These findings are owed, at least in

part, to the fact that glucose affects the hippocampus — the part of the brain

responsible for short-term memory. In one small study, people with high blood

sugar levels actually had a smaller hippocampus than those with normal

glucose regulation. Any type of insult or injury to the brain, including high blood


sugar, easily damages the hippocampus. Fortunately, it is also a resilient part

of the brain and its function can be recovered when blood sugar levels are


According to Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert

Segal, M.A. (2016 cited at

memory-loss.htm.) a person who greatly got average to high on their

memory retention are the following: A person who got plenty of sleep; Who eat

plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink green tea, eat foods containing

antioxidants in abundance, foods rich in omega-3 fats (such as salmon, tuna,

trout, walnuts, and flaxseed); who made some activities more enjoyable by

appealing to their senses such as playing music during the exercise, for

example, or lighting a scented candle, or rewarding themselves after they’ve

finished; Who exercise their brain from playing chess or bridge, and word

games like Scrabble; A person who got the habit of learning new things such

as games, recipes, driving routes, a musical instrument, and a foreign

language; A person who took a course in an unfamiliar subject that interests

him/her; And a person who took on a project that involves design and

planning, such as a new garden, a quilt, or a koi pond.

But on the other hand according to Melinda (2016) a person who got

low on their memory retention if: A person took three or more drugs as well as

certain individual medications, taking too many medications can also create

cognitive problems. On her study it was found that the more medications a


person will take, the higher their risk for brain atrophy; A person who aren’t

socially engaged with family and friends are at higher risk for memory

problems; A person who smoke heighten their risk of vascular disorders that

can cause them stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain; A

person with damage stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can

lead to low memory retention; A person who eat too many calories, though,

can increase their risk of developing memory loss or cognitive impairment;

And sleep deprivation reduces the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus

and causes problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making. It can

even lead to depression.

In addition to the characteristics of a person with low memory retention

are the following study of Siddarth P., Ercoli L., Merrill D., and Small G. PLOS

(2014, as cited in Anthony Rivas 2014) depressed people with diabetes have

been shown to have a higher risk of memory loss, and people who are

uneducated are more likely to be obese. But these problems may all be more

interrelated than we might think. Physical inactivity may lead to not only higher

blood pressure but also diabetes and obesity. It seems that from a young age,

the most important thing a person can do is be as healthy as possible, with the

help of a proper diet and exercise. In doing so, all of these lifestyle factors can

be prevented even depression and mental health can and will be preserved.

Moreover, it was found out on the study of Glenda Thorne (2006) as

cited from


May06.php (2009) that the memory demands for school-age children are

much greater than they are for adults. Many students have memory problems

because are constantly bombarded with new knowledge in multiple topic

areas. Students who have deficits in registering information in short-term

memory often have difficulty remembering instructions or directions they have

just been given, what was just said during conversations and class lectures

and discussions, and what they just read. Students who have difficulty with

working memory often forget what they are doing while doing it. In addition

these students will look like they have difficulty with reading comprehension. In

facts, they do; but the comprehension problem is due to a failure of the

memory system rather than the language system. Lastly, students

characteristics who have deficits in the storage and retrieval of information

from long-term memory may study for tests, but not be able to recall the

information they studied when taking the tests. They frequently have difficulty

recalling specific factual information such as dates or rules of grammar. They

have a poor memory of material they earlier in the school year or last year.

They may also be unable to answer specific questions asked of them in class

even when their parents and/or teachers think they really know the



New Age Music on Memory Retention

The following are previous studies conducted which support that New

Age Music has significant effect on memory retention: First the study of

Varnell’s (2013) as cited in Etino (2015); Colwell, C.M. (1994); Messeli, P.,

Pegna, P. Sordet, N. (1995); Bouhuys, Bloem and Groothuis of the University

of Groeningen (1995; and Felix (1993) as cited in Herman (2008). These

researches identified the new age music as one intervention to improve the

working memory and problems on it can be minimize. In fact, listening to

music such as Steven Halpern, comfort-Zone can improve memory retention

(as cited in Etino, 2015).

Furthermore, according to the World Education Council (2009) as cited

by Etino, (2015), entitled “Learning and thinking effectively” music such as

new age music is best for relaxation, uplifting, enhances creativity, and

improves concentration and focus.

There are studies that have explored the effect of new age music to the

memory retention. According to the study of motion, Kershner & Siegel (2002)

as cited in Etino, (2015), both memory recall and retention increased while

listening to music. The results were interpreted as an arousal response to the

music that enhances neurotransmission in certain pathways. Similarly, another

study of Balch and Lewis (2000) as cited in Etino, (2015), entitled “Music


Dependent Memory: The roles of tempo change and mood mediation contains

a memory retention experiment in which the participants are exposed to both

the same or varied music tempos attempting to memorize to certain words

they found out that listening to music with a constant tempo while memorizing

words triggered a mood-dependent effect that cause the participants to

experienced high tend memory retention.

However, as cited by Etino (2015) Adding brainwave entrainment

technology to healing music amplifies the benefits of the music itself. Taking

advantage of the well-documented ‘frequency-following effect’, Deep Theta

allows you to tune your brain’ to the theta range of brainwave activity

associated with deep meditation, enhanced healing and heightened creativity.

Music for accelerated learning you learn best when you’re relaxed. Create the

optimal sound environment for learning in which you retain and recall

information more effectively. The music becomes transparent and nondistracting

as it orchestrates whole brain learning. This is best recommended

for students of all ages, including ADD/ADHD. Steven Halpern’s comfort zone

is the exquisite music, on solo piano and electric piano, provides an

atmospheric ambience that is both functional and artistically pleasing. Comfort

Zone is an ideal choice for many listening situations; at work, at home, by you

or with friends or family. Close your eyes take a deep breath and enjoy the

relaxation and renewal from being in your Comfort Zone has a great effect on

the memory retention.


Moreover, Charles Parent (as cited from the use of music in

promoting memory retention and concentration results proved to have both

positive on memory retention and I.Q. First study on the theory revealed that

I.Q. levels were boosted by 8 to 9 points this set a Flurry of subsequent

studies on the subject of music and education.

However, on the testimonial of Kim Bevill, Classroom teacher,

consultant, and Director, Brain Basics Convention (2011) as cited in

(, He can see the effects

immediately his student’s faces, and in their behavior. As a workshop leader

he conducts training programs for teachers, he has recommended Steven’s

music for years. As a result these teachers are now experiencing the brainbalancing

benefits with their own students. One of his students told him that he

had ADD and had never read more than one sentence of a book in his life. He

said he played Steven Halpern’s new age music and home, and for the first

time, he read an entire chapter, his music also works wonders on the teachers

themselves. It helps them maintain their own balance and center amidst the

daily challenges of the classroom.

On the other hand, the following are previous researches stating that

New Age Music has no significant effect on memory retention; First, according

to Abrams, Brian O. (2012) Does It Really Work? Voices- as cited from ?q=fortnightly-columns/2012-does-it-really32

work (2015). As he reflect upon his own experienced to work with clients (from

neonatal intensive care, cancer care, psychiatric, individual music

psychotherapy, and other contexts), as well as my own experiences of being a

client, he have never found the work in music therapy to be located in any sort

of mechanism. For him, the work is located in human relationship, on the level

of persons-persons who utilized opportunities for co-creating processes and

outcomes that address clinical needs. He had never experienced the new age

music as a thing that works, but rather as a way in which the client works, with

the help and support of the therapist; nor had he ever experienced new age

music as effective (even when it is, as he liked to pun, very affective).

Dowling, W.J., Kwak, S., Andrews, M.W. (From the time course of

recognition of novel melodies. Perception & Psychophysics, 2000). Explored

the time course of recognition of brief novel melodies in 7 experiments with a

total of 248 undergraduates. In a continuous-running-memory task, Subjects

recognized melodic transpositions following delays up to 2 min. The delays

were either empty or filled with other melodies. Test items included exact

transpositions (Ts), same-contour lures with altered pitch intervals, and

different-contour lures (DCLs). Subjects’ discrimination of detailed changes in

pitch intervals and their discrimination of contour changes (T/DCL) were

assessed. Results suggest that (1) contour and pitch-interval information make

different contributions to recognition, with contour dominating performance

after brief empty delays and pitch intervals dominating after longer filled


delays; (2) a coherent tonality facilitates the encoding of pitch interval patterns

of melodies; and (3) the rich melodic-rhythmic contours of real melodies

facilitate T/DCL discrimination.

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