The Involuntary Nature of Music-evoked Autobiographical Memories in Alzheimer's Disease


Consciousness and Cognition




The main objective of this paper was to examine the involuntary nature of music-evoked autobiographical memories. For this purpose, young adults, older adults, and patients with a clinical diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) were asked to remember autobiographical events in two conditions: after being exposed to their own chosen music, and in silence. Compared to memories evoked in silence, memories evoked in the "Music" condition were found to be more specific, accompanied by more emotional content and impact on mood, and retrieved faster. In addition, these memories engaged less executive processes. Thus, with all these characteristics and the fact that they are activated by a perceptual cue (i.e., music), music-evoked autobiographic memories have all the features to be considered as involuntary memories. Our paper reveals several characteristics of music-evoked autobiographical memories in AD patients and offers a theoretical background for this phenomenon.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Memory; Mood; Music Listening; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Receptive Music Methods; Young Adults

Indexed Terms

Age Factors; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Cues; Emotions; Executive Function; France; Memory, Episodic

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type