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"From Jazz To Rock To Classical," How Music Can Help With Memory
Listening to music might be your greatest passion, or it may be something you do casually during Sunday cleaning or on the way to work. Either way, it could be actually be good for your memory. Researchers are working to understand how music can help those suffering from traumatic brain loss recuperate or progress from their state.
Harvard Health Publishing says researchers have found that singing lyrics can be really helpful to people recuperating from a brain injury or a stroke affecting the left side of the brain, which is responsible for speech. Harvard explains that the ability to sing originates in the undamaged right side of the brain, so people can use signing, bit by bit dropping the melody, to learn to speak their thoughts.
The work music has done to help people with dementia, a loss of memory and mental abilities severe enough to affect people's every day, can be seen in Alive Inside. Documentary director Dan Cohen captures how music effects the mood and behavior of people who seemed to have lost "connection to themselves and the world." Using a playlist of the music they enjoy.
5.7 million Americans live with Alzheimers, the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Harvard notes the reactions that result in patients, saying "The music, which ranges from jazz to rock to classical, elicits surprising reactions. Some people, who had seemed unable to speak, proceed to sing and dance to the music, and others are able to recount when and where they had listened to that music. The music seems to open doors to the residents' memory vaults."
"Music has more ability to activate more parts of the brain than any other stimulus," said Oliver Sacks, M.D., one of the experts interviewed in the documentary.
A 2018 report from the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease uncovered "objective evidence from brain imaging shows personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer's disease."
Alive Inside helped launch many music programs in nursing homes. One California nursing home is using music to see whether it can help replace antipsychotic drugs and restraints for residents in nursing homes susceptible to agitation who were at a point thought "unreachable." The study was done on more than 4,500 men and women and has seen positive results. As PBS News Hour notes new research shows music therapy could help people in coma or in a vegetative state recover. One patient, who was diagnosed with a vegetative state and had agitated incidents so bad, he fell out of bed, had shown progress after listening to music, showing that he no longer "fit" that state. The patient, Steven, can be bee seen smiling and moving his head to the music.
Research on the relationship between music and brain trauma continues. Plenty of evidence exists of music as a source of memory aid outside of trauma, too. As the Washington Post points out, studies have looked at whether music helps raise memory and enhance skills language learning, literacy and verbal intelligence.