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The Magical Memory Tour

Scientists at the University of Leeds are asking people to blog about their memories of The Beatles to create the biggest database of “autobiographical memories” ever attempted.

The online survey, devised by psychologists Martin Conway and Catriona Morrison from the Leeds Memory Group, aims to enhance our understanding of human memory by uncovering the role The Beatles and their music plays in our personal histories.

Psychologists know that certain cues are successful at triggering the recollection of events from our lives — our “autobiographical memories.” Music in particular has a strong emotive and recollective power in relation to our long-term memory.

As global pop icons, the impact of the life, times and music of The Beatles spans different generations, countries, and cultures.

Whilst the majority of memory studies look at “flash-bulb” events, such as the Challenger disaster, this will be the first time psychologists have attempted to gather a huge database of memories by tapping into the unique global influence The Beatles have in shaping our personal identities.

The results will help them further understand how children develop a capacity for memory, how adults process memory, and how memory changes in older adulthood.

The survey is aimed at anyone, anywhere who has a memory relating to The Beatles (you don’t have to be a fan to get involved!). Just think about the first thing that comes to mind from your life that is related to The Beatles. It may be a very vivid memory relating to a particular album, song, news story, or even a band member. Log on to www.magicalmemorytour.com to input your own memories and explore other people’s. Find out which albums evoke the most memories, which songs evoke positive or negative memories, and which news events are most vividly remembered.

Launched in partnership with the British Association  for the Advancement of Science, results from the survey will be reported at the BA Festival of Science (September 6-11, 2008) in Liverpool and in a future Observer.

Observer Vol.21, No.4 April, 2008

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