Does a Live Performance Impact Synchronization to Musical Rhythm in Cognitively Impaired Elderly?

M. Ghilain
L. Hobeika
M. Lesaffre
L. Schiaratura
A. Singh
J. Six
D. Huvent-Grelle
F. Puisieux
S. Samson

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Music-based interventions appear to be efficient approaches to improve emotional, social, and cognitive functioning of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. OBJECTIVE: Because benefits seem to increase with patient's motor involvement, we studied sensorimotor synchronization (SMS) abilities of patients with cognitive impairments (Alzheimer's disease, vascular and mixed dementia) and of patients with no evidence of cognitive impairments. More specifically, we compared the impact of a live performance by a musician to a video recording on SMS. METHODS: SMS to a metronomic or a musical stimulus was assessed while patients watched a live musician or his pre-recorded video. RESULTS: SMS to a metronome was better than to music but this effect was modulated by the social context. While SMS to a metronome was better when facing a video than a live performance, there was no impact of social context on SMS to music. No group differences of SMS were found. CONCLUSION: The decrease in SMS to a metronome in a live performance may be due to social pressure. Such a pressure might be removed in pleasant social activities, like moving with music in a group, explaining the lack of effect on SMS to music. We found no performance differences in groups, suggesting relatively spared SMS in cognitively impaired patients. By showing that it is possible to encourage patients to synchronize with others, even when facing a video, our results indicate that SMS can be used as a relevant predictor in clinical trials and open up promising therapeutic options for isolated patients.