Mozart Improves Spatio-Temporal Task Performance in Alzheimer’s Patient

From a case study by Johnson JK, Cotman CW, Tasaki CS, and Shaw GL:

Several recent studies have investigated the effectiveness of various behavioral interventions on the cognitive performance of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Simulations of Shaw’s structured model of the cortex led to the predictions that music might enhance spatial-temporal reasoning. A subsequent behavioral study in college students documented an improvement in scores on a spatial-temporal task after listening to a Mozart piano sonata. In this study, we investigated the enhancement of scores on a spatial-temporal task after a Mozart listening condition in a set of twins who are discordant for AD. After listening to an excerpt from a Mozart piano sonata, the AD twin showed considerable improvement on the spatial-temporal task when compared with pretest scores [emphasis added]. Furthermore, no enhancement of scores was seen following either of the control conditions (i.e., silence or 1930s popular tunes). This finding suggests that music may be used as a tool to investigate functional plasticity in Alzheimer’s disease and to better understand the underlying pathophysiology.

I’m assuming the sonata was the standard K. 448, and this offers considerable hope to Alzheimer’s patients, who have problems with the most simple tasks. If this truly does demonstrate neuroplasticity even in advanced Alzheimer’s patients, one day we may be able to improve their lives simply by choosing classical music!

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