Previous columns in the “How Do I Learn?” series explored the neurological basis of learning, memory, and attention. This month, we review the connections between memory and music and consider the possibility that music can facilitate uptake and retention of academic content. While formation of memories and their recall are complicated, several music-related factors are known to influence these processes, as discussed below.

A clear prerequisite for learning and remembering something is that one’s attention must be focused on whatever is to be remembered. The prefrontal cortex appears to have a “central executive” function that selects which components of working memories should be consolidated into longer-term memories (Müller & Knight, 2006). In contexts ranging...

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