The Power of Music & Dementia - Part 2
by Gabriela Matic
I think we all agree that music has great power. In the last blog post about dementia and music we spoke about why music can help people with dementia and what parts of the brain are affected. This post will look at what music actually does with the brain and what fascinating effect it can have, not matter if you’re just listening to it or actually making music yourself.
Challenging and improving brain power
When we speak about listening to music we often think of a relaxing activity that helps unwind. However, it should be considered that our nervous system has to complete some pretty difficult tasks when we listen to music. If you do that actively and attentively you set off various learning processes that lead to your brain to make sense of all the information contained in one piece of music.
Once more with feeling…
What is especially interesting about music is how it can affect our emotions. As already mentioned in the last blog post, a lot of memories can be triggered through simple melodies. In the field of music psychology this phenomenon is frequently termed the “Play-it-again-Sam-Effect”. The term is said to come from one version of the movie “Casablanca” where the character Lund asks the pianist Sam to play the song “As time goes by” again. The song is supposed to remind of a long past love. Indeed, music can bring back long forgotten memories and emotions.
The music library in your head
Imagine sitting in the car and switching radio channels in the hope to find a good song. If you get to a channel that plays classical music you will recognize that in a split second. You have heard classical music before and that acoustic pattern is saved in your head, together with thousands of other patterns which you can use for comparative purposes! Your library gets bigger and bigger.
Make some music!
The effect is even stronger if you not only listen to music but also learn how to play a musical instrument yourself. Beneficial changes in the central nervous system are proven and it does make a lot of sense. You won’t get fit from watching sports, right? The connections in motor centres are already built after the first piano lesson. It takes only three weeks for these connections to be stable and be preserved for years. Watch this great TED video for more information on the long term effects:
Music and Language
Studiesshow that musicians might be the better language learners. The research suggests that learning a music instrument before the age of seven helps you develop bigger vocabularies, better sense of grammar and a higher verbal IQ. This is beneficial for both, development of the mother tongue and the learning of a foreign language.
Music and Dementia
This sounds good right? But does it really help in the context of dementia? There arestudiesthat proof that it can. Inoneof them, 469 people over 75 have been monitored in New York. During that time, 27% of participants developed dementia. Nevertheless, only 19% of people who regularly play music also were affected.
So, don’t hesitate! Put those records on and maybe learn a new instrument? It’s never too late!
In the meantime enjoy MindMate’s special playlist! Only created for you!
And the best news is:
We have music in the MindMate App now!