Musical Experience and Dementia. Hypothesis


Aging Clinical and Experimental Research




BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Cognitively stimulating activities appear to protect against the development of dementing illness--playing a musical instrument may be one of these activities. Consistent with this notion, the aim of this study was to explore the hypothesis that dementia might be less common among orchestral musicians. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 23 older orchestral musicians who were former members of a single orchestra was carried out. Prior musical background, family history, and health history were obtained. A cognitive screen was administered in person or by telephone. Musicians were also queried regarding their awareness of living former orchestral colleagues with dementia. RESULTS: The mean age of participants was 76.9 +/- 6.8 (SD). No participant was aware of a living former or current orchestral member with either reported or suspected dementia. CONCLUSIONS: The results are consistent with the hypothesis that dementing illness may be less among orchestral musicians--possibly from a lifetime engaged in a cognitively stimulating endeavor.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Music and Healing; Music Practitioners; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Playing an Instrument; Recreative Music Methods

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Elderly; Aging; Alzheimer Disease; Cognition; Cross-Sectional Studies; Dementia; Models, Psychological

Study Type

Phenomenological Study; Qualitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type