A Nonmusician With Severe Alzheimer's Dementia Learns a New Song
The hallmark symptom of Alzheimer's Dementia (AD) is impaired memory, but memory for familiar music can be preserved. We explored whether a non-musician with severe AD could learn a new song. A 91 year old woman (NC) with severe AD was taught an unfamiliar song. We assessed her delayed song recall (24 hours and 2 weeks), music cognition, two word recall (presented within a familiar song lyric, a famous proverb, or as a word stem completion task), and lyrics and proverb completion. NC's music cognition (pitch and rhythm perception, recognition of familiar music, completion of lyrics) was relatively preserved. She recalled 0/2 words presented in song lyrics or proverbs, but 2/2 word stems, suggesting intact implicit memory function. She could sing along to the newly learnt song on immediate and delayed recall (24 hours and 2 weeks later), and with intermittent prompting could sing it alone. This is the first detailed study of preserved ability to learn a new song in a non-musician with severe AD, and contributes to observations of relatively preserved musical abilities in people with dementia.
Music and Health Institute Terms
Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Memory; Music Listening; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a song; Song Reminiscence
Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Auditory Perception; Learning Disabilities; Mental Recall; Neuropsychological Tests; Singing; Vocabulary; Alzheimer’s Dementia; memory; singing
Case Study; Qualitative Methods
Baird, A.; Umbach, H.; and Thompson, W. F., "A Nonmusician With Severe Alzheimer's Dementia Learns a New Song" (2017). Research on Music and Dementia. 228.