Music Memory

By: Hope Fliedner

Why music memory?

I chose "music therapy for memory" because, it's a very interesting topic to learn about. People are capable of reclaiming their memories, because of music. Someone with dementia could hear a song, and suddenly their capable of remembering memories involving music, the rhythm, the lyrics, everything. The more people aware of this tactic, the more we can learn about how the brain trains itself to remember rhythms and sounds.

What is Music Memory?

Music memory is a new way to find renewed meaning and connection in patients lives through the gift of music. It's used in nursing homes and other organizations to help patients who suffer from cognitive and physical challenges, like remembering their children's names. They teach the care trainers to set up music playlists for the patients, delivered on iPods, for those in their care. The music is able to collect those deep memories that the dementia might have lost, and it makes them able to be social again, to converse, and stay present.

What is Music Memory doing to the brain?

When looking at an fMRI, researches are able to see how the brain responds to familiar music. It shows the salient memories and music that is perceived as enjoyable. According to a researcher at the University of California, "the familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in your head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place." The region of the brain where memories of our past are supported & retrieved also serve as a hub that links emotion, music, and memories. The hub is located in the prefrontal cortex region, which is also one of the last areas of the brain to be affected by the disease. The disease usually breaks the connection between the brain and the cells, which affects how the brain works. As the cells die, the cortex shrinks, and the cortex is what contains the hippocampus, which contains the memories.

Research on Music Memory

Dr. Fredrick Schaerf helps us understand how the brain is affected by music as well. According to a PET scan that Dr. Schaerf studied, it showed the brains reaction to music. The scanned brain lights up with activity and releases dopamine. The dopamine boost may be one of the reasons why music is such a big deal to people with Alzheimer's disease, and other types of dementia, to connect to positive memories and feel more involved in the world. Several experiences have been done with patients that have a memory reducing disease. The experiment includes them listening to the music, and then their reactions are shown through the music. They began to tap their foot to the music, or to sing the lyrics, or even to remember what kind of music they enjoyed the most when they were younger.

Some facts about music

  1. It's known that music can change mood, have stimulant effects, and alter things like heart rate & breathing.
  2. The goal of the music therapy is to improve communication, academic strengths, attention span, and motor skills.
  3. The speed of the heartbeat tends to speed or slow depending on the volume of the music.
Alive Inside Official Trailer 1 (2014) - Alzheimer's Documentary HD