Music, Emotion, and Dementia: Insight from Neuroscientific and Clinical Research


Music and Medicine




Music has an important meaning in the lives of many elderly persons. Its capacity to evoke emotions and influence mood and arousal is often relatively well preserved also in dementia. Neuroscientific and clinical research has increased our understanding about the mechanisms underlying music enjoyment and its therapeutic effects. This article reviews previous studies that address the neural basis of music cognition and emotion. We also introduce the effects of varying music interventions on emotional and cognitive functioning in dementia. Findings suggest that both traditional music therapy and caregiver-implemented music activities may have the capacity to reduce emotional and behavioral disturbances in dementia, although firm conclusions about the long-term effects of music still remain elusive. The rapid growth of dementia warrants study in the rehabilitative effects of everyday musical leisure activities or hobbies, such as music listening and singing, on well-being in dementia, especially in its early stages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Emotional Functioning; Mood; Music and Cognition; Music Cognition; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Singing a Song

Indexed Terms

music cognition; emotions; dementia; music intervention; Cognition; Intervention

Study Type

Editorial, Opinions, Position Papers

Document Type