The areas of the brain that recall music and nurture singing are among the last to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people with Alzheimer’s can enjoy choral singing and gain health benefits from it well after other opportunities for creating, learning, and enjoying friends seem out of reach. Care partners benefit from singing as well.
While much work remains to be done, here are some of the things researchers have learned:
- Brain scan images have shown that the dorsal medial pre-frontal cortex (associated with autobiographical memories and emotions) is highly stimulated during music activities. For people with Alzheimer’s, this area of the brain is one of the last to be affected.
- One study demonstrated that while singing, memories are produced that contribute to self-discovery, self-understanding and identity.
- In a study from Finland, memory and mood in people with dementia significantly improved when they took part in regular singing or listening to music.
- Singing has been shown to increase learning and retention of new verbal material in persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and to engage brain regions responsible for motor action, emotions and creativity.
Additional websites, movies, books and toolkits are available as resources for singing and memory.