Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Music and Alzheimer's

Two new articles just popped up on music and Alzheimer's. This one covers familiar ground on music helping retrieve memories from earlier periods of patients' lives.

It has long been known that even after patients no longer recognize names and faces, they can sing along to a favorite tune. “Auditory processing seems to be the last skill to go,” said Tomaino, who has worked in the field for 32 years.

This article talks about using music as a mnemonic tool for remembering things like what pills to take when.

“One thing we do know about the way the brain processes music is that it’s more of a global process,” he says. “While the parts of the brain where we make memories — the medial temporal lobes like the hippocampus — are the first parts to be ravaged as Alzheimer’s develops, music pulls from the cortical and subcortical areas, which aren’t as damaged by the disease.” As a result, neuroscientists believe that music may allow patients to code information using much more of the brain. Or it may be that music stimulates people and helps them pay more attention, he says, adding that even with healthy older adults, lack of focus plays a role in memory impairment. Whatever the mechanism, the therapeutic value of music is accepted by the medical establishment, and some forms of music therapy are covered by health insurance.

No comments:

Post a Comment