Playing a Musical Instrument as a Protective Factor against Dementia and Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Twin Study

Abstract:

Increasing evidence supports that playing a musical instrument may benefit cognitive development and health at young ages. Whether playing an instrument provides protection against dementia has not been established. In a population-based cotwin control study, we examined the association between playing a musical instrument and whether or not the twins developed dementia or cognitive impairment. Participation in playing an instrument was taken from informant-based reports of twins’ leisure activities. Dementia diagnoses were based on a complete clinical workup using standard diagnostic criteria. Among 157 twin pairs discordant for dementia and cognitive impairment, 27 pairs were discordant for playing an instrument. Controlling for sex, education, and physical activity, playing a musical instrument was significantly associated with less likelihood of dementia and cognitive impairment (odds ratio [OR] = 0.36 [95% confidence interval 0.13–0.99]). These findings support further consideration of music as a modifiable protective factor against dementia and cognitive impairment.

For our Italian friends:

Crescenti evidenze sperimentali suggeriscono che suonare uno strumento musicale sia positivo per la salute e lo sviluppo cognitivo dei giovani, invece non è stato stabilito se possa esercitare un effetto protettivo contro la demenza. In questo studio gli Autori indagano l’associazione tra il suonare uno strumento e lo sviluppo di demenza o declino cognitivo in una popolazione di gemelli. La capacità o meno di suonare uno strumento è stata dedotta dalle informazioni personali ottenute dai gemelli, mentre la diagnosi di demenza è stata verificata usando i criteri diagnostici standard. Tra 157 gemelli discordanti per lo sviluppo di demenza, 27 coppie erano discordanti anche per l’aver suonato uno strumento musicale. Controllando per sesso, educazione e attività fisica, la capacità di suonare uno strumento era associata con una ridotta probabilità di demenza e disagio cognitivo (odds ratio [OR]?=?0.36 [95% intervallo di confidenza 0.13-0.99]). Questi risultati supportano la possibilità di considerare la musica come fattore protettivo contro demenza e declino cognitivo.

M. Alison Balbag, Nancy L. Pedersen, and Margaret Gatz, “Playing a Musical Instrument as a Protective Factor against Dementia and Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Twin Study,” International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 2014, Article ID 836748, 6 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/836748

Copyright © 2014 M. Alison Balbag et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

 

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