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The Sound of Silence: Can Imagining Music Improve Spatial Rotation Performance?

Abstract

We report two experiments exploring whether imagining music improves spatial rotation via increases in arousal and mood levels (Schellenberg 2005). To aid their imagination, participants were given instructions (none, basic or detailed) and lyrics (present or absent). Experiment 1 showed no effect of instructions or lyrics on performance although participants felt that the presence of the lyrics helped. Experiment 2 was identical to Experiment 1 except that the participants were musicians (as evidenced by musical experience and/or qualification). This time there was a significant effect of instructions in that those who received the detailed instructions performed significantly better than the no instruction condition although the presence of lyrics did not help. Further research is required to establish the similarity of the imagination to the traditional arousal and mood effect but the phenomenon may be useful for short-term boosts in spatial rotation activities.

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Correspondence to Nick Perham.

Appendix

Appendix

Detailed instructions

How does it start?

  • With one instrument, several instruments, all instruments, singing?

  • With an intro?

What is the melody?

  • Which instrument plays the melody?

  • Or is it just the singer who sings the melody?

What instruments are used?

  • Do they have their own instrumental?

  • Male or female voice, or a band so lots of voices?

  • Are there harmonies and backing vocals?

What kind of tempo does it have?

  • Fast, slow, a mixture?

  • Are there loud parts where it gets really intense?

  • Are there softer, more quieter parts?

When singing the song in your head think about the reasons why you like this song and why is it important to you.

  • Which parts are your favourite?

  • Remember how it makes you feel.

Participants’ choice of songs in Experiment 1: 12 songs were chosen by more than one participant

The Killers – A Dustland Fairytale Muse – The Resistance
Usher – You Remind Me Sean Kingston – Letting Go
Bruno Mars – Grenade Matt Cardle – When We Collide
Rihanna – Only Girl In The World JLS – Out Of This World
Rihanna – What’s My Name Pixie Lott – Broken Arrow
Brandon Flowers – Crossfire Adele – Set Fire To The Rain
Adam Lambert – Down The Rabbit Hole Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment
Nickelback – Far Away Nickelback – Something In Your Mouth
The Coral – Dreaming Of You Zac Brownband – Chicken Fried
Savage Garden – Truly Madly Deeply Adele – Rolling In The Deep
Bryan Adams – Everything I Do Miley Cyrus – The Climb
Head Automatica – Beating Hearts Baby Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge
Maximo Park – Books and Boxes Paulo Nutini – Candy
R.E.M. = Bad Day Sheryl Cole – Everyday’s a Winding Road
All That Remains – Two Weeks Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower
Third Eye Blind – The Jumper The Cure – Friday I’m In Love
Keri Hilson – Where Did He Go Keri Hilson – How Does It Feel
Hoobastank – The Reason DJ Champion – No Heaven
Florence and the Machine – You’ve Got The Love Adele – Make You Feel My Love
Pink – Raise Your Glass Dashboard Confessional – Stolen
Tinie Tempah – Pass Out Stereophonics – Maybe Tomorrow
Hard Fi – Living For The Weekend Diddy – I’m Coming Home
Jason Derulo – Ridin’ Solo Biffy Clyro – Many Of Horror
Funeral For A Friend – Into Oblivion Green Day – Holiday
The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love Foo Fighters – Best Of You
Blink 182 – First Date Katy Perry – Firework
Coldplay – Fix You Incubus – I Miss You
Adele – Someone Like You Ellie Goulding – Your Song
Pendulum – Water Colour Tinie Tempah – Wonderman

Participants’ choice of songs in Experiment 2

Kanye West - Power Eminem - Stan
Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter 30 Seconds To Mars – Night of the hunter
N.W.A – Express Yourself John Legend – It Don’t Have To Change
The Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower
Tinie Tempah - Frisky Drake – Headlines
One Night Only – Just For Tonight Paramore - Ignorance
Queen – You’re My Best Friend Damian Rice – Cannonball
Two Door Cinema Club – Cigarettes In The Theatre Bowling For Soup - 1985
Tony Christie – Amarillo Frank Sinatra – My Way
Linkin Park – What I’ve Done Linkin Park – New Divide
Fall Out Boy – Dance, Dance The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – False Pretense
Biffy Clyro – The Captain Panic! At The Disco – The Ballad Of Mona Lisa
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way The Clash – London Calling
Manic Street Preachers – Your Love Alone Is Not Enough Pigeon Detectives – You Know I Love You
Snow Patrol – Run Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californiacation
Metallica – Enter Sandman System Of A Down – Chop Suey
Blur - Parklife Stereophonics - Dakota
Massive Attack – Teardrop Limp Bizkit - Rollin
The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll The Jam – Going Underground
Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
Kyuss – Green Machine Orgy – Blue Monday
Jelly Roll Molten – Buddy Bolden’s Blues Oliver The Musical – The Situation
Christina Perri – A Thousand Years Christina Perri – Jar Of Hearts
Frank Sinatra – Autumn In New York Frank Sinatra - Brazil
Coldplay - Paradise Travis - Sing
Blur – Song 2 Bombay Bicycle Club – Favourite Day
Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ Duran Duran – View To A Kill
Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
Rihanna – We Found Love Drake – Take Care
Huey Lewis & The News – The Power Of Love Bryan Adams – Run To You
Labrinth - Earthquake Green Day - Holiday
Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly Foo Fighters – All My Life
Hard – Fi – Hard To Beat Arctic Monkeys – Pretty Visitors
Noisettes – Never Forget You Jay-Z – Heart Of The City
The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Wiz Khalifa – Black And Yellow Jay-Z And Kanye West - Paris
Feeder – Buck Rogers White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Stereophonics – She Takes Her Clothes Off The Killers – Mr Brightside
Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs Robinson Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound Of Silence
Stevie Wonder - Superstition Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine
Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way Smashing Pumpkins - Today
Nirvana – Come As You Are Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
U2 – Beautiful Day Fleetwood Mac – The Chain
Ed Sheeran – The A Team Ben Howard - Diamonds
Lana Del Ray – Born To Die Arctic Monkeys – Riot Van

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Perham, N., Lewis, A., Turner, J. et al. The Sound of Silence: Can Imagining Music Improve Spatial Rotation Performance?. Curr Psychol 33, 610–629 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-014-9232-7

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Keywords

  • Music
  • Imagination
  • Spatial rotation