Brain Function

November 17, 2009

Music and Memory

Alzheimer’s Disease has more than its share of treatments that fall under the category of “it can’t hurt” in that they may not help too much but they can’t hurt either. Absent significant evidence to the contrary, I include brain games and exercises in this area.

But, something called “music therapy” does seem to help with some symptoms. It certainly sounds like fun. In my own life music is a kind of general therapy for everything, but that’s another story.

Music stimulates the medial prefrontal cortex. Since this area of the brain seems less affected by Alzheimer’s, stimulating it can lead to better alertness and improve mood. Petra Janata, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain, has found that certain tunes seem to bring back lost memories. It’s as if an old movie can be replayed in one’s mind by hearing the soundtrack. Dr Janta calls it a “mental movie”.

The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function works with this concept and has suggested music lists and downloads. See their web site for more information. I may come up with a suggested music list of my own, but just for my generation.