Investigating the Role of Involuntary Retrieval in Music-Evoked Autobiographical Memories


Music is a particularly salient autobiographical memory cue. Prior work has indicated that autobiographical memories evoked by music are more episodically rich than those evoked by other sensory cues. One explanation for this effect could be that music evokes autobiographical memories in a more involuntary manner than other cues. Here, we investigated the role of involuntary retrieval in music-evoked autobiographical memories. Results indicated that, regardless of intentionality, music-evoked autobiographical memories were more episodically rich and contained more perceptual details than face-evoked memories. That is, even when directly comparing involuntary music-evoked memories to involuntary face-evoked memories, there was still a consistent difference in episodic richness between memories evoked by the two cue types. This suggests that it is not the involuntary nature of music-evoked memories alone that drives this difference, but that the difference in episodic richness between cue types seems at least partially to depend on other stimulus features.


Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Autobiographical memory; Episodic; Music; Vividness; Voluntary control

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1090-2376; 1053-8100

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 Apr 2022