The influence of music on lexical decision-making in adolescents

(1) Winchester High School
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Reading comprehension and vocabulary retention are valuable assets in modern society. Studying these processes can aid in helping individuals improve these skills. The lexical decision task is designed to test aspects of vocabulary retrieval from short-term and long-term memory by prompting the subject to differentiate between words and non-words. From this task, researchers can determine the effects of certain stimuli on linguistic processing. Numerous studies have investigated the effects of music on various cognitive capacities, like memory and vocabulary. Not much research exists, however, that directly compares the effects of background music on reading comprehension and vocabulary retention as determined by the lexical decision task. In the current study, we hypothesized that participants would show greater accuracy rates on the lexical decision task when exposed to a selected piece of classical music while completing the task, as compared to completing the task in silence. We tested this hypothesis on a group of 25 participants who completed the lexical decision task once in silence and once while listening to Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata, 1st Movement”. Their accuracy was analyzed using a two-sample t-test. The results suggest a positive association between the effects of classical background music and improved accuracy. Our results indicate that listening to certain types of music may enhance linguistic processes such as reading and writing. Further research with a larger group of participants is necessary to better understand the association between music and linguistic processing abilities.

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