Home Music intervention Listening to Favorite Music Improves Brain Plasticity: Study | Health

Listening to Favorite Music Improves Brain Plasticity: Study | Health


Researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) and Unity Health Toronto have shown that repeated listening to personally significant music induces beneficial brain plasticity in patients with mild cognitive impairment or disease. Early Alzheimer’s.

Changes in neural pathways in the brain correlated with increased memory performance on neuropsychological tests, supporting the clinical potential of personalized music-based interventions for people with dementia.

The landmark multimodal study was published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“We have new brain-based evidence that autobiographically memorable music – that is, music that has special meaning for a person, such as a song they danced to at their wedding – stimulates connectivity. neuronal so as to maintain higher levels of functioning, “says Dr. Michael Thaut, lead author of the study, director of the Music and Health Sciences Research Collaborative, Tier One Canada Research Chair in music, neuroscience and health, and professor in the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

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“In general, it is very difficult to show positive brain changes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These preliminary but encouraging results show improved brain integrity, opening the door to further research into therapeutic applications of music for people with dementia – musicians and non-musicians, ”added Dr Michael.

The research team reported structural and functional changes in the neural pathways of study participants, most notably in the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s control center where deep cognitive processes occur.

The researchers showed that exposing the brains of patients with early-stage cognitive decline to important autobiographical music activated a distinct neural network – a musical network – made up of various brain regions that showed differences in activation after a period of time. daily listening to music.

Differences were also seen in brain and white matter connections, providing further evidence of neuroplasticity.

“Music-based interventions can be a feasible, cost-effective, and easily accessible intervention for people with early-stage cognitive decline,” says Dr. Corinne Fischer, senior author, director of geriatric psychiatry at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto and Associate Professor, Temerty School of Medicine, University of Toronto.

“Existing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have shown limited benefit to date. Although larger controlled studies are needed to confirm clinical benefits, our results show that an individualized, at-home approach to listening to music can be beneficial and have lasting effects on the brain. “

For the study, 14 participants – eight non-musicians and six musicians – listened to a curated playlist of long-known and autobiographically relevant music for one hour a day for three weeks. Participants underwent structural and task-based functional MRI before and after the listening period to determine changes in brain function and structure.

During these analyzes, they listened to clips of long-known and newly-composed music. Heard an hour before digitization, the new music was similar in style but had no personal significance.

When participants listened to the recently heard and newly composed music, brain activity occurred primarily in the auditory cortex, centered on the listening experience. However, when participants listened to long-known music, there was significant activation in the deep coded network of the prefrontal cortex, a clear indication of executive cognitive engagement. There was also a strong engagement in the subcortical brain regions, older areas little affected by the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers reported subtle but distinct differences in the structural and functional brain changes associated with listening to music in musicians compared to non-musicians, although more studies on larger samples are needed to verify these results. Repeated exposure to music with autobiographical salience improved cognition in all participants, regardless of musicality.

“Whether you are a longtime musician or have never played an instrument, music is a key to your memory, your prefrontal cortex,” says Thaut.

“It’s simple – keep listening to the music you’ve loved all your life. Your all-time favorite songs, those tracks that are especially meaningful to you – make this your brain gym.”

This article builds on a previous study in the same group of participants that first identified the brain mechanisms that encode and preserve musical memories in people with early-stage cognitive decline.

Next, the researchers plan to replicate the study in a larger sample and institute a strong control condition to study the role of musicianship in moderating brain responses, and whether it is the music or the autobiographical content that is what. induces plasticity changes.

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This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing.