Musical Memory in Alzheimer Disease


Neuropsychology, Development, and Cognition




This study examines musical memory in 12 patients with moderate or severe AD and 12 healthy, older adult controls. Participants were asked to distinguish familiar from novel tunes, to identify distortions in melodies, and to sing familiar tunes. Comparison of the AD and control groups showed significant impairment of the AD participants. However, a more complex picture emerged as we compared each individual case to the control group. Five of the AD group performed within the control group range on most tasks. An additional four participants showed partial sparing in that they performed below the range of control participants, but their scores were above the level of chance. The final three participants showed near complete loss of musical memory, as their performance was consistently at or near the level of chance. These results are discussed in terms of the literature on the heterogeneity of cognitive presentation in AD.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Interviews; Memory; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Song Reminiscence

Indexed Terms

Acoustic Stimulation; Elderly; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Auditory Perception; Interviews as Topic; Memory; Memory Disorders; Neuropsychological Tests; Pattern Recognition, Physiological; Psychomotor Performance; Reproducibility of Results

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type