Alzheimer's DementiaArt, Music, DanceElderly

Music enhances memory in people with Azheimer’s disease

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, in Massachusetts report that the benefits include greater understanding of the pathophysiology of dementia.

First, the details.

  • 20 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 20 healthy individuals were assigned to become familiar with 40 songs.
    • 20 lyrics accompanied by a sung recording
    • 20 lyrics accompanied by a spoken recording
  • After each presentation, participants were asked to indicate whether they were previously familiar with the song they had just heard.

And, the results.

  • Among patients with Alzheimer’s disease, accuracy was greater when the lyrics were sung vs spoken.
  • In healthy adults, there was no difference.

The bottom line?

Musical mnemonics have a long and diverse history of popular use.

In this study, the authors concluded, “Patients with Alzheimer’s disease performed better on a task of recognition memory for the lyrics of songs when those lyrics were accompanied by a sung recording than… a spoken recording.”

Contrary to popular belief, there was no effect among healthy adults.

It appears that the “stimuli accompanied by music and a sung recording may create a more robust association at encoding than do stimuli accompanied by only a spoken recording in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” say the authors.

5/19/10 20:53 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.