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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015, Article ID 707625, 11 pages
Research Article

The Influence of Music on Prefrontal Cortex during Episodic Encoding and Retrieval of Verbal Information: A Multichannel fNIRS Study

UMR-CNRS 5022 “Laboratoire d’Etude de l’Apprentissage et du Développement”, Université de Bourgogne, 21000 Dijon, France

Received 23 January 2015; Revised 2 May 2015; Accepted 11 May 2015

Academic Editor: Kentaro Ono

Copyright © 2015 Laura Ferreri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Music can be thought of as a complex stimulus able to enrich the encoding of an event thus boosting its subsequent retrieval. However, several findings suggest that music can also interfere with memory performance. A better understanding of the behavioral and neural processes involved can substantially improve knowledge and shed new light on the most efficient music-based interventions. Based on fNIRS studies on music, episodic encoding, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), this work aims to extend previous findings by monitoring the entire lateral PFC during both encoding and retrieval of verbal material. Nineteen participants were asked to encode lists of words presented with either background music or silence and subsequently tested during a free recall task. Meanwhile, their PFC was monitored using a 48-channel fNIRS system. Behavioral results showed greater chunking of words under the music condition, suggesting the employment of associative strategies for items encoded with music. fNIRS results showed that music provided a less demanding way of modulating both episodic encoding and retrieval, with a general prefrontal decreased activity under the music versus silence condition. This suggests that music-related memory processes rely on specific neural mechanisms and that music can positively influence both episodic encoding and retrieval of verbal information.