Retrieval of Memories With the Help of Music in Alzheimer's Disease


Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement




This study focuses on music as a mediator facilitating access to autobiographical memory in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Studies on this topic are rare, but available data have shown a beneficial effect of music on autobiographical performance in AD patients. Based on the "index word" method, we developed the "index music" method for the evaluation of autobiographical memory. The subjects had to tell a memory of their choice from the words or music presented to them. The task was proposed to 54 patients with diagnosis of AD according to DSM IV and NINCDS-ADRDA criteria. All of them had a significant cognitive decline on the MMSE (mean score: 14.5). Patients were matched by age, sex and level of education with 48 control subjects without cognitive impairment (mean score on the MMSE: 28). Results showed that autobiographical memory quantity scores of AD patients were significantly lower than those of healthy control in both methods. However, autobiographical memory quality scores of AD patients increased with "index music" whereas autobiographical memory quality scores of healthy control decreased. Also, the autobiographical performance of patients with AD in condition index music was not correlated with cognitive performance in contrast to the autobiographical performances in index word. These results confirm that music improves access to personal memories in patients with AD. Personal memories could be preserved in patients with AD and music could constitute an interesting way to stimulate recollection.

Music and Health Institute Terms

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

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Memory, Episodic; Mental Recall; Neuropsychological Tests; Alzheimer's disease; autobiographical memory; recollection

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

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