Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Christine Brennan

Second Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Third Advisor

Gail Ramsberger


Many studies have investigated the relationship between music and learning text. Our study sought to investigate if learning novel words can be enhanced and maintained when presented in a sung familiar melody condition versus a spoken condition. Forty five female participants between the ages of 18-35 with varying degrees of musical training whose native language was English were exposed to 20 novel words and 20 novel objects in varying combinations of spoken and sung conditions. Participants were assigned to 4 separate “groups” that heard stimuli in counterbalanced orders that accounted for recency effects and provided an extra level of reliability. Participants were presented with groups of 5 novel words accompanied by 5 novel objects representing each word and were immediately asked to recall syllables and whole words, and to identify objects when hearing given words. Participants then returned two days later for a delayed recall task. Participants were asked to recall as many syllables and words, and to identify as many novel objects when hearing a given spoken word to the best of their abilities. The effect of a familiar melody condition versus a spoken condition on novel word learning was measured by immediate and delayed recall of both novel whole words, accuracy of correct syllables, and accuracy of semantic representation identification. The results of our study revealed that both immediate recall and delayed recall of novel words were enhanced significantly when presented via a spoken condition, rather than sung in a familiar melody condition in regards to recall for syllables and picture identification. Our study also revealed that representing information via familiar melody had an adverse effect on word learning and did not aide in the recall of syllabic, whole word, or semantic representation information for neither immediate nor delayed recall tasks.