Previous research (Music Perception, 2002, Issue 2) demonstrated improvement in recognition memory across delays increasing from 5 to 15 s while listening to novel music, attributable to a decline in false alarms to similar lures. We hypothesize that this improvement results from delayed binding of features. At short delays, targets and similar lures are easily confused because they share individual features such as melodic contour and musical key. Binding those features into a coherent memory representation—such as encoding the pitch level at which the contour is attached to the scale—reduces that confusion and hence false alarms to similar lures. Here we report eight experiments in which we explore the conditions under which this continued encoding occurs, and test specific hypotheses concerning the particular features involved. These phenomena involve the binding of complex features of nonverbal material, and are explained in terms of theoretical descriptions of the features and the representations resulting from binding. We envisage future studies investigating this binding phenomenon with neurophysiological methods in the study of cognition in aging.

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