Music Enhances Verbal Episodic Memory in Alzheimer's Disease


Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology




INTRODUCTION: Although previous studies suggest that music may facilitate verbal learning in a healthy population, such a mnemonic effect has seldom been investigated in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Moreover, memorization of texts was generally compared when either sung or spoken. In the present study, it was examined whether the benefit observed on verbal learning was specific to music or whether an associative context binding items together led to similar benefits, regardless of the nature of the association. METHOD: Twelve patients with mild AD and 15 healthy controls learned texts presented with either a musical (sung) or a nonmusical association (spoken associated to a silent movie sequence) or without association (spoken alone). Immediate and delayed (after a 5-min delay) recall was measured. RESULTS: Main results showed that (a) sung texts were better remembered than spoken texts, both immediately and after a retention delay, for both groups; (b) the musical benefit was robust, being observed in most AD patients; (c) the nonmusical association may also facilitate verbal learning but to a lesser extent. CONCLUSIONS: A musical association during the encoding stage facilitates learning and retention in AD. Furthermore, this advantage seemed quite specific to music. The results are discussed with respect to the clinical applications in AD; theoretical implications are highlighted to explain the power of music as a mnemonic technique.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Memory; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Analysis of Variance; Case-Control Studies; Memory Disorders; Memory, Episodic; Mental Recall; Neuropsychological Tests; Statistics as Topic; Time Factors; Verbal Learning; Binding; Cognitive stimulation; Learning; Mnemonics

Study Type

Randomized Controlled; Trial; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type