Music and dementia: individual differences in response to personalized playlists

Abstract courtesy of Neuromusic News, Fondazione Mariani

Music and dementia: individual differences in response to personalized playlists
Journal of Alzheimers Disease 2018 Jun 23

Garrido S, Stevens CJ, Chang E, Dunne L, Perz J
MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour & Development, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia

Personalized music playlists are increasingly being used in health-care contexts to address the psychological and behavioral symptoms in people with dementia. However, there is little understanding of how people with different mental health histories and symptoms respond differently to music. A factorial experiment was conducted to investigate the influence of depression, anxiety, apathy, and cognitive decline on affective response to music. Ninety-nine people with dementia listened to three music playlists based on personal preferences. Activation of facial action units and behavioral observation were measured continuously. Results demonstrated that people with high levels of depression and with symptoms of Alzheimer’s type dementia demonstrated increased levels of sadness when listening to music. People with low depression but high levels of apathy demonstrated the highest behavioral evidence of pleasure during music listening, although behavioral evidence declined with severity of cognitive decline. It is concluded that as well as accounting for personal preferences, music interventions for people with dementia need to take mental health history and symptoms into account.

And for our Italian friends:

Una playlist di musica personalizzata è un metodo sempre più utilizzato nei contesti di cura per risolvere problemi di natura psicologica o comportamentale in persone con demenza. Tuttavia, non è chiaro come persone con differenti storie di malattia mentale rispondano in modo diverso alla musica. È stato condotto un esperimento fattoriale per investigare il ruolo della depressione, dell’ansia, dell’apatia e del declino cognitivo nella risposta emotiva alla musica. 99 soggetti affetti da demenza sono stati esposti all’ascolto di tre diverse playlist musicali basate sulle preferenze personali. L’attivazione di unità di azione facciale e l’osservazione comportamentale sono state misurate di continuo. I risultati evidenziano che le persone con alti livelli di depressione e con segni tipici della demenza di Alzheimer mostravano un incremento dei segni di tristezza quando ascoltavano la musica. Le persone con basso punteggio di depressione, ma con alto livello di apatia mostravano la più significativa evidenza di piacere durante l’ascolto della musica, sebbene gli indici comportamentali declinassero con l’aumento del declino cognitivo. Gli Autori concludono che, oltre a considerare le preferenze personali, gli interventi musicali per i pazienti affetti da Alzheimer debbano tenere in considerazione anche la loro storia clinica e i sintomi.

Full article access

DOI: 10.3233/JAD-180084
Journal: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 933-941, 2018

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Abstract: Nonmusician with severe Alzheimer’s dementia learns a new song

Via Fondazione Mariani, from Neurocase 2017 Feb;23(1):36-40

A nonmusician with severe Alzheimer’s dementia learns a new song

Baird A, Umbach H, Thompson WF 
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders and Psychology Department, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

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.

For our Italian friends:

Il sintomo caratteristico della demenza senile di Alzheimer (AD) è la memoria compromessa, ma i ricordi di melodie familiari possono essere preservati. Gli Autori hanno indagato se un non-musicista affetto da una grave forma di AD potesse imparare una nuova canzone. A una donna di 91 anni (NC) malata gravemente di AD è stata insegnata una canzone che non conosceva. I ricercatori hanno valutato il tempo di recupero differito della canzone (24 ore e 2 settimane), la cognizione della musica, il richiamo di due parole (presentate all’interno del testo di una canzone a lei familiare, in un proverbio famoso oppure come la radice di una parola da completare), e la capacità di completare un testo e un proverbio. La cognizione musicale di NC (percezione dell’altezza e del ritmo, riconoscimento di una musica familiare, completamento del testo delle parole) si è dimostrata relativamente conservata. La paziente ha recuperato 0 parole su 2 presentate nel testo della canzone o nei proverbi, ma è riuscita a richiamare 2 su 2 radici delle parole, suggerendo quindi funzioni intatte della memoria implicita. Ha potuto cantare sia eseguendo sul momento la canzone appena imparata, sia dopo un richiamo ritardato (24 ore e 2 settimane dopo) e, con un prompt intermittente, è riuscita a cantare da sola. Questo è il primo studio dettagliato sull’abilità conservata di imparare una nuova canzone nei non musicisti affetti da severe forme di AD, e fornisce un contributo alle osservazioni relative alle preservate abilità musicali nelle persone affette da demenza.

Full article may be found here.

Baird, A., Umbach, H., & Thompson, W. F. (2017). A nonmusician with severe Alzheimer’s dementia learns a new song. Neurocase, 23(1), 36-40.

Music and Memory 2014 Columbia Music Scholarship Conference

CMSCThe tenth annual Columbia Music Scholarship Conference (CMSC) will be held on March 8, 2014 at Columbia University in the City of New York. The theme of the 2014 meeting is Music and Memory. The conference is organized by graduate students from the Department of Music at Columbia University with financial support from the Department of Music and the Graduate Student Advisory Council.

The conference welcomes Prof. Jonathan Sterne from the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University as the 2014 keynote speaker. Prof. Sterne teaches in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science Program at McGill University. He is author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke 2012), The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke, 2003); and numerous articles on media, technologies and the politics of culture. He is also editor of The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012). His new projects consider instruments and instrumentalities; histories of signal processing; and the intersections of disability, technology and perception.

Burgeoning interdisciplinary inquiry on memory is enabling scholars to develop new perspectives in a diverse array of fields ranging from history, anthropology, sociology, literary studies, art history, archeology, cultural studies, and media studies, to philosophy, political science, theology, education, psychology, and the cognitive sciences. This conference will add to this growing interdisciplinary conversation about memory in the sciences, arts, and humanities, stimulating a dialogue both on the role of memory in music studies and on the place of music in studies of memory.

The conference seeks to consider the complexity of memory’s embeddedness in music’s practices, subjects, objects, ideologies, sites, and technologies. Interests lie in memory as lived, constructed, represented, performed, transmitted, inscribed, incorporated, and stored, as persisting, travelling and circulating, as material and immaterial, human and non-human, as a capacity and a resource that impacts and shapes everyday lives. In what ways can memory influence musical practice, and in what ways can musical practice influence memory? How might memories be theorized musically? What can music scholars offer to memory studies, and memory scholars to music studies?

Information provided by the CMSC website.