How personalised music can help Alzheimer’s patients
Listening to personalised music programme may help alleviate anxiety, improve mood and reduce other symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, says a study. The findings showed that music activates the attentional network in the saliency region of the brain, offering a new way to approach anxiety, depression and agitation in patients with dementia. Activation of neighbouring regions of the brain may also offer opportunities to delay the continued decline caused by the disease. “People with dementia are confronted by a world that is unfamiliar to them, which causes disorientation and anxiety,” said Jeff Anderson, Associate Professor at the University of Utah, in the US.
“We believe music will tap into the salience network of the brain that is still relatively functioning,” he noted in the paper appearing in the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. Further, the researchers found that music activates the brain, causing whole region to communicate. By listening to the personal soundtrack, the visual network, the salience network, the executive network and the cerebellar and corticocerebellar network pairs all showed significantly higher functional connectivity. “Brain imaging showed that personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease,” said Norman Foster, Director at the varsity.
“Language and visual memory pathways are damaged early as the disease progresses, but personalised music programmes can activate the brain, especially for patients who are losing contact with their environment,” Foster said. However, these results are by no means conclusive, the researchers noted. While “no one says playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it might make the symptoms more manageable, decrease the cost of care and improve a patient’s quality of life”, Anderson said.