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Music has been used as a healing tool for centuries, now commonly in the form of music therapy. Music therapy has been beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease by brightening moods, increasing social interaction, and reducing the difficulty of finding words (Brotons, Koger, & Pickett-Cooper, 1997). In the current study, the effect of music on aspects of identity in individuals with Alzheimer’s was investigated. Twenty-three participants (nine with Alzheimer’s, fourteen non-Alzheimer’s controls) responded to the Autobiographical Memory Interview (AMI) and the Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI) with and without music played immediately beforehand. It was hypothesized that music would increase autobiographical memory recall and accuracy in judgment of personality for those with Alzheimer’s, but would have no effect on participants without Alzheimer’s. Results showed that for people with Alzheimer’s disease, music increased recall of specific events but not simple factual information, and music had no effect on the recall of those without Alzheimer’s. When the data was split into high and low levels of cognitive functioning (based on scores from the Mini-Mental State Examination), the low cognitive functioning group recalled significantly more information on both the personal Semantic and Autobiographical Incident portions of the AMI. The results suggest that music can aid autobiographical recall in individuals with low cognitive functioning, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. The results also provide additional support for the use of music as therapy.


Approved by: Benjamin Faber, Stephen Stelzner, Linda Tennison, Bruce Thornton, Rodger Narloch, Anthony Cunningham

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