Music reduces anxiety, activates brain regions of Alzheimer's patients

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 30, 2018

But there are things in our surroundings like music that help to activate regions of the brain that are not yet affected by it. "Music is like an anchor, grounding the patient back in reality".

Tuning in to customized music program may help mitigate nervousness, enhance state of mind and diminish different side effects in patients with Alzheimer's disease, says an investigation.

"This is objective evidence from brain imaging that shows personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer's disease", said Norman Foster, M.D, director of the Center for Alzheimer's Care at U of U Health and senior author on the paper. This involved asking participants in the study to choose certain songs that are "meaningful" to them, and training both the patients and their caregivers on how to play the curated musical selection on a portable media player.

Using a functional MRI, the researchers scanned the patients to image the regions of the brain that lit up when they listened to 20-second clips of music versus silence.

The researchers found that music activates the brain, causing whole regions to communicate. "We believe music will tap into the salience network of the brain that is still relatively functioning", he added.

Previous studies have shown that regular physical activity can help older people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

That's because the part of the brain associated with our emotional response to music - known as the salience network - is a memory bank that even Alzheimer's can't corrupt.

According to Science Daily, there are some limitations to the new study, including the fact that only 17 people took part in the imaging sessions, which were limited to only one per patient. In the light of those limitations, study co-author Jeff Anderson, a radiology professor at the University of Utah, acknowledged that the results do not automatically mean music can cure Alzheimer's disease, but stressed that there's a chance it could alleviate some symptoms, while also reducing the costs of care and improving quality of life for Alzheimer's patients.

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