Early Dementia: Effect of Musical Activities on Cognitive Functioning

Teppo Särkämö PhD Institute of Behavioural Sciences PL 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 1A), 363 FI-00014, HELSINGIN YLIOPISTO FinlandMedicalResearch.com:
Teppo Särkämö PhD
Institute of Behavioural Sciences
PL 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 1A), 363

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We found that caregiver-implemented musical leisure activities, such
as singing and music listening, are beneficial for elderly persons
with mild-moderate dementia (PWD). Compared to standard care, regular
singing and music listening improved mood, orientation level, episodic
memory and to a lesser extent, also attention and executive function
and general cognition. Singing also enhanced verbal working memory and
caregiver well-being, whereas music listening had a positive effect on
quality of life.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: Initially, we expected that singing would perhaps be more beneficial
for PWDs because it is more active and cognitively demanding than
music listening, but it was interesting to find that also music
listening had a positive effect on cognitive functioning and mood. It
was also interesting and encouraging to note that musical activities,
especially singing, could enhance emotional well-being also in the
caregivers, who are often under considerable stress and strain.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: Our findings indicate that music can be emotionally and cognitively
stimulating in early dementia and that family members (e.g., spouses
and children) and nurses should be actively encouraged and trained to
use musical activities as a part of the everyday care of the PWD. In
more general terms, the results suggest that not only structured
therapist-led interventions but also caregiver-implemented leisure
activities can be effective and could therefore provide an easily
applicable and cost-efficient way to enrich the lives of both PWDs and
their caregivers.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: In future, it would be valuable to extend this study to larger cohorts
of PWDs (especially those with Alzheimer’s disease) and to focus on
even earlier stages of dementia, during which musical activities could
be most beneficial and potentially produce the best long-term
outcomes. In addition, comparing music to other stimulating leisure
activities would be important.


Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Benefits of Regular Musical Activities in Early Dementia: Randomized Controlled Study.

Särkämö T, Tervaniemi M, Laitinen S, Numminen A, Kurki M, Johnson JK, Rantanen P.

Address correspondence to Teppo Särkämö, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, PO Box 9, University of Helsinki, FI 00014, Finland.

Gerontologist. 2013 Sep 5. [Epub ahead of print]


Last Updated on September 30, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD