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Fall 2015

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


Soundtrack of Our Minds

New research shows musicians have superior memory for pictures 

illustration of brain composed of music notes

Evidence shows that musicians have faster neural responses and better memory retention.

Thank your mom for all those piano lessons she made you take when you were younger. While you were pecking away at the keys and learning the basic notes, chords, and progressions, you were unknowingly forming the foundation for advanced cognition and better memory retention.

“Musically trained people are known to process linguistic materials a split second faster than those without training, and previous research has also shown that musicians have advantages in working memory,” says psychology Assistant Professor Heekyeong Park, who worked with graduate student James Schaeffer on the research project. “What we want to know is whether there are differences between pictorial and verbal tasks, and whether any advantages extend to long-term memory.”

For their research, Dr. Park and Schaeffer used electroencephalography (EEG) technology to measure the electrical activity of neurons in the brains of 14 musicians and 15 non-musicians. Overall, the neural responses of the musicians were hundreds of milliseconds faster than those of the non-musicians. The former, all of whom had been playing classical music for more than 15 years, outperformed non-musicians in EEG-measured neural responses on working memory tasks. For long-term memory, though, enhanced sensitivity was only found in their memory for pictures.

Park theorizes that professional musicians may become more adept at taking in and processing a large number of pictorial cues as they navigate musical scores. A musician’s advantage in remembering images is of particular interest to researchers in cognitive science since these pictorial cues represent non-verbal events, which we experience daily.

Park and Schaeffer’s work adds to growing evidence that music training may be a good way to improve cognitive abilities. If it benefits long-term memory, such training could also lead to a better treatment option for people with cognitive challenges, like Alzheimer’s or general long-term memory loss.

Illustration by Brian Stauffer

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