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Association Between Music Engagement and Episodic Memory Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A National Cross-Sectional Analysis.



To determine whether music engagement influences middle-aged and older adults' performance on episodic memory tasks.


Secondary data analysis of a sample (N = 4,592) of cognitively healthy adults from the 2016 Health and Retirement Study was used for this study. Multivariable regression models were used to analyze the cross-sectional differences in performance on tasks of episodic memory between participants who listened to music (n = 3,659) or sang or played an instrument (n = 989).


On average, participants recalled 10.3 words out of a possible 20. Regression analyses showed that both listening to music and singing or playing an instrument were independently associated with significantly better episodic memory.


The findings provide the first population-based evidence that music engagement is associated with better episodic memory among middle-aged and older adults. Future studies should examine whether the relationship between music engagement and episodic memory can be replicated in other populations and that the association persists in longitudinal studies.

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