Study examines whether music can improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease

The main objective of the study, titled “The Mozart Effect and Memory in Patients with Cognitive Impairment (MEM-COG)”, is to determine whether music can be used to facilitate or improve learning in patients with cognitive impairment. people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It will also examine which aspects of music are essential for establishing cognitive advantage. In other words, what types of music – relaxing or invigorating – and what times are most useful: for example, in the phase when we are learning new information or in the phase where we are recovering information that we have learned previously.

As Calabria, researcher at the Cognitive Neurolab of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and holder of a doctorate in psychology from the University of Padua, said, “it is important to differentiate these two aspects. , as they involve different memory processes, and this study will determine at which phase music may be of greatest benefit. “It should be noted that there are already studies indicating that exposure to music may increase performance in tasks related to memory, learning and attention, but, specifies the researcher, “the majority of these studies involved healthy people and we do not know if the music could be a complementary tool to cognitively stimulate the people. people with memory deficits These neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by difficulty forming new memories, and music may be one of them. new learning.

It should be noted that there are already studies indicating that exposure to music can increase performance in tasks related to memory, learning and attention, but, as the researcher of the l ‘UOC,’ the majority of these studies were in healthy people and we don’t know if music could be a complementary tool to cognitively stimulate those with memory deficits. These neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by difficulty forming new memories, and music could be a way to help consolidate new learning.

Classical music is the most memory efficient genre

The study will involve patients from the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona and Música y Alzheimer, a center in Barcelona specializing in the rehabilitation and cognitive stimulation of people with Alzheimer’s disease through music. In the first phase of the study, participants will perform memory-related tasks with classical music playing in the background. They will have to memorize unfamiliar faces and remember them afterwards. Calabria explains that classical music is used because “it is a kind of music that is characterized by being both relaxing and invigorating, and has been shown to be the most effective in stimulating memory. In addition, the fact that ‘it has no words means there is less interference that verbal information can cause to the content that participants will need to learn in memory tasks. ” The aim is also to use the same methodology as previous studies on the issue with healthy subjects.

In the second phase, the researchers will use music familiar to the participants (popular and folk music) to see “whether the fact that they like it more could strengthen their emotional facets and thus bring more benefits related to the memory”.

Music, given the lack of pharmacological treatments

Since currently available pharmacological treatments have a very limited effect on cognition, the availability of other types of therapies – such as music – which can improve the cognitive status of those affected is of crucial importance. . With the results of this research, Calabria and the rest of the research team hope to provide specific guidelines to help restore some of the memory lost by these people: what type of people can benefit the most from music, which type of music to use and how much of the learning process it needs to be played to achieve the greatest therapeutic benefits.

“The Mozart Effect and Memory in Patients with Cognitive Impairment (MEM-COG)” is one of nine UOC projects funded by the R&I programs of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation in its latest call .

Source:

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

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