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Alzheimer's Disease: Music Brings Patients 'Back to Life'

Henry Dryer sits slumped over the tray attached to his wheelchair. He doesn't speak, and rarely moves, until a nursing home worker puts his headphones on.

Then Dryer's feet start to shuffle, his folded arms rock back and forth, and he sings out loud in perfect sync with his favorite songs.

Alzheimer's Disease: Music Brings Patients 'Back to Life' - ABC News

"When I end up in a nursing home, I'll want to have my music with me," said Dan Cohen, executive director of Music & Memory. "There aren't many things in nursing homes that are personally meaningful activities. Here's the one easy thing that has a significant impact."

Cohen said the personalized playlists, chosen by loved ones, make patients light up.

"They're more alert, more attentive, more cooperative, more engaged," he said. "Even if they can't recognize loved ones and they've stopped speaking, they hear music and they come alive."

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Personalized playlists have triggers to memories associated with the music? Wow!

Music, it's not just enjoyable, it's good for you too!

I keep wondering why music has the property that it can trigger memories.

But I guess why is less important than the observation that it works.

Maybe it has to do with association, hearing being one of your 5 senses, certain sounds associated with something in particular gets filed away together, like when you hear a song and it reminds you of a certain time in your life,  a certain place, and the people you were hanging out with at the time, it's paired with those memories.  At least that's the way it is for me, my husband who is tone deaf, would probably say it is less pronounced, to non-existent for him, so it's prevalence is probably along a spectrum.

I believe that is true, Janill.

Just like certain smells can trigger memories, too.

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