Self-defining Memories During Exposure to Music in Alzheimer's Disease


International Psychogeriatrics




BACKGROUND: Research suggests that exposure to music may enhance autobiographical recall in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) patients. This study investigated whether exposure to music could enhance the production of self-defining memories, that is, memories that contribute to self-discovery, self-understanding, and identity in AD patients. METHODS: Twenty-two mild-stage AD patients and 24 healthy controls were asked to produce autobiographical memories in silence, while listening to researcher-chosen music, and to their own-chosen music. RESULTS: AD patients showed better autobiographical recall when listening to their own-chosen music than to researcher-chosen music or than in silence. More precisely, they produced more self-defining memories during exposure to their own-chosen music than to researcher-chosen music or during silence. Additionally, AD patients produced more self-defining memories than autobiographical episodes or personal-semantics during exposure to their own-chosen music. This pattern contrasted with the poor production of self-defining memories during silence or during exposure to researcher-chosen music. Healthy controls did not seem to enjoy the same autobiographical benefits nor the same self-defining memory enhancement in the self-chosen music condition. CONCLUSIONS: Poor production of self-defining memories, as observed in AD, may somehow be alleviated by exposure to self-chosen music.

Music and Health Institute Terms

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

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Case-Control Studies; Memory, Episodic; Neuropsychological Tests; Self Concept; Semantics; Alzheimer’s disease; autobiographical memory; memory; self-defining memories

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type