Music brought my memories back (Commentary)

Older songs might have brought lost memories back


Blake Kline

According to Psychology Today, “people who suffer from memory loss still demonstrate lasting memories of music.”

Something spectacular recently happened to me.

About 10 years ago, something occurred in my life. My mind went a little astray. I was sick to my stomach for about a year, and I later started to feel depressed, anxious, angry, and affected by certain sounds. Following these symptoms, I also lost some memories.

Every day I attended school, I was deliberately bullied: kicked, shoved to the ground, chased, ridiculed. That is most likely the reason I started to experience the aforementioned symptoms.

After many years, I have gained control over these things. However, I still can’t really remember. Those memories are still gone, non-accessible to me. I learned this is most likely due to trauma-induced memory loss.

The stress response from trauma can affect different parts of the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for memory. “The hippocampus also gives us a way to learn by comparing past memories with present experiences.” The left remembers facts and recognition. The right hippocampus focuses on spatial memory (remembering different locations and spatial relationships to objects).

Fear-based memories are processed by the amygdala. The amygdala helps with the formation of long-term memories.

During this time of strain, the brain blocked out certain memories as a defense mechanism to protect from physiological damage. My brain has blocked out some of the negative moments that affected me so greatly, while still leaving quite a bit of the negative behind. As great as it sounds to not remember the bad memories, this memory loss stole a lot more of my good memories. This is a sad consequence of the fight or flight response that occurs in the brain. 

The good memories were of my family. 

Imagine only remembering hard times with your family, rather than the happy moments. It can cause strain when trying to reach out to them. 

Recently, I heard “The Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani (featuring Akon), and it brought me back to a time when I was in the car with my mom, jamming out to the radio with her. I’m pretty sure I was in a car seat. That got me thinking, what else did we listen to in the car together? So with me being me, I compiled a playlist on Spotify of all the songs that I could remember.

As I listened to the songs, many memories came rushing back — the ones I had been trying to reclaim for years. Emotions overwhelmed me with tears as I hugged my mom.

I got my lost memories back through music.

Not all of my memories came back to me that day, but could music be my answer? Will music help me to remember again?