Can music help Alzheimer’s patients remember better? That’s what researchers are trying to find out.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia. Essentially, certain nerve cells in the brain die, making it difficult for the individual to transmit brain signals clearly. This causes problems with memory loss, judgment, disorientation, and thinking. These patients also struggle with following directions, communicating with others, and performing daily, familiar tasks.
The National Institute of Aging, along with researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine, conducted studies with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to see if new information was better kept in their memory if it was set as lyrics to a musical tune.
The study, which included both healthy adults and AD patients, presented new information on a computer screen and included lyrical presentations as well as spoken recordings. When tested after each presentation, the results showed that accuracy was better for AD patients when the information was sung, but showed no difference in preference for the healthy, older control groups.
The results conclude that music helps the retrieval and encoding process of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease as compared to other elderly without AD. It appears as though the music recruits more parts of the brains in an Alzheimer’s patient than it does with others and can be an effective way of presenting new information to those who suffer from this debilitating disease.
So if you have a friend or family member dealing with Alzheimer’s, try setting your name or other important information to music to help them remember who you are. It might make you feel a little silly, but imagine how much happiness it will bring to an AD patient who has been frustrated with their lack of memory.