Healthy Living

Using Music to Help Unlock Alzheimer's Patients' Memories

Using Music to Help Unlock Alzheimer's Patients' Memories

Alternative treatments and solutions are always taken into account when fighting neurological illnesses like Alzheimer's disease. However, currently researchers are looking into how Alzheimer's patients can truly benefit from the sweet-sounding melodies music brings.

Music is a part of everyone’s life. Whether it be listening to a favorite song after a long day or using it as motivation to get through a workout routine, everyone knows that without music, the world just wouldn't be the same.

While we use it to get through the day, music is also present in the most important moments in people’s life. There is always a special song at every birthday, wedding, graduation and festival. This is why, along with photographs, music can be attached to the memories from the special moments in someone's life, which may actually improve the memory for some Alzheimer's patients with a few added benefits as well. 

Healing properties of music

Regarding the healing properties of music, 2,500 years ago Plato mentioned that "Music is a moral law, it gives the universe a soul, giving wings to the mind, it allows the imagination to fly, it gives charm and joy to all things, to life itself." Among the benefits that this art correctly attributes, music is like medicine for all of us.

Music has been demonstrated to be an excellent factor for mitigating anxiety and accentuating joy. However, according to a new analysis of 400 previous scientific reports, which was conducted by psychologists from McGill University, in Canada, it seems that today we have strong arguments to postulate music as an effective tool for healing.

Interestingly, at least since man had access to play music with a certain autonomy, music has been one of the drugs that have inspired the most self-prescription. How many people do not resort daily to encourage or qualify a mood, to calm down or to excite us, prescribing a certain track for it? And although musical stimuli has been used for some time in medical contexts, for example to favor relaxation or reduce physical pain, the truth is that until now this was a resource that was somehow "intuitive".

The conclusions obtained from this extensive analysis were published by Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel Levitin, under the title The Neurochemistry of Music. The authors were able to identify four medical areas in which music can help:

  1. Reward, motivation and pleasure
  2. Stress
  3. Immunity
  4. Social affiliation

These areas are connected to their respective neurochemical primary systems: dopamine and opioids, cortisol, serotonin, and oxytocin.