Note of IntentionReasons for an Engagement in Questions about Music and Aging
The positive influence of musical presentations on Alzheimer’s patients has long-since been recorded by music therapists. Above all, we know about the ability of music to change the patients‘ mood allowing to reduce the medication. Music can also be used to stimulate their memory power as well as their learning ability, which often decline with Alzheimer’s patients.
First ResultsHervé Platel’s team in Caen has been working on this hypothesis for years and has already shown the power of music, which functions like Proust’s Madeleine helping patients to rediscover memories of the past, which are linked to certain musical pieces. In fact, listening to music from their youth is a very strong cognitive and emotional stimulation for the patients, which is able to revitalize them in a spectacular way. Emmanuel Bigand’s works, run in Lead, have been able to prove this.
However, it is most important to find out if music can revive the episodic memory (the memory of recent events), which is affected by the disease at first.
Hervé Platel and Emmanuel Bigand’s teams give us convergent and promising elements. Patients suffering from a far advanced state of the disease (with a memory power between 0 and 7 at the MMST) are even able to learn a new song and to remember its melody after six month.
Those works hint on the music being a precious ʺneurostimulatorʺ in the battle against severe cognitive illnesses. Presumably music can also work against the mental aging of young seniors. This hypothesis is the origin of a large project Emmanuel Bigand is running in the new pole ERIE at the university of Burgundy. In the future, it will be the scientists‘ hardest challenge to understand how they can use the power of music to stimulate the brain most effectively.
The MethodsThe methods of music therapy and musical learning programmes have to be reconsidered regarding those new objectives. According to Emmanuel Bigand those new notions of musical learning have to integrate the contributions of modern neuroscience as well as new technologies.