There is "tonal recognition," but the term seems to be ambiguous. I'm looking for a better one.
Let me describe the phenomenon:
You hear a tune, any tune. It may be pop music, or jazz, or rock, or opera, or symphonic music, or a theme song. At the same time (or on the same day, anyway) you experience something truly memorable; something pleasant, perhaps.
Days, weeks, months, or years pass.
Suddenly you hear the tune again, and it brings back all those memories.
You may or may not be truly aware that the tune is linked to those memories in your mind. You just like to hear it.
Your liking to hear it (and this is crucial) has nothing at all to do with the tune's actual artistic value. You assume it's a great tune because it makes you feel happy.
Thus, music appreciation per se does not play a part here: the tune may, in fact, be brilliant, or it may be completely worthless: you're bound to like hearing it because of all those memories.
Now, what is this phenomenon called? It's "tonal ..." something ... something ... I can't quite put my finger on it.