Name that tune: Alzheimer's patients more easily recall new information when it is sung to them

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It has been said that music has charms to soothe the savage beast. Now, research shows it also may have the power to help Alzheimer's patients remember new information.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine set out to determine whether Alzheimer's patients would be better able to recall new information if it was sung to them, as opposed to merely spoken. Alzheimer's patients and older healthy control subjects were visually presented with the lyrics to 40 songs. Half of the lyrics were presented along with the original recordings. The other half was presented in a spoken format.

The Alzheimer's patients could more easily recall the lyrics when they were accompanied by the musical recording, according to the researchers. Surprisingly, however, the healthy control group did not experience the same memory benefit of the musical recording. This seems to indicate that the memory encoding and retrieval process of musical information in Alzheimer's patients is fundamentally different than in healthy seniors, according to the study. The report appears online in the journal Neuropsychologia.