Music activates brain regions saved by Alzheimer's disease

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    Have you ever had chills listening to a particularly moving piece of music? You can thank the projecting network of the brain for this emotional articulation. Surprisingly, this region is also an island of remembrance spared by the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.

    Man suffering from Alzheimer's disease
    Researchers are turning to the brain's network of projections to develop music-based treatments to help relieve anxiety in patients with dementia.

    Researchers at the University of Utah health are turning to this area of the brain to develop music-based treatments to help relieve anxiety in patients with dementia. Their research will appear in the April 2018 online issue of the journal of prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

    "People with dementia are confronted with a world that is unfamiliar to them, causing disorientation and anxiety," said Jeff Anderson, M.D., Ph.d., Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Utah health and author of the study. "We believe that music will tap into the network of protrude brain that still works relatively well."

    Previous work has shown the effect of a personalized music program on the mood of dementia patients. The purpose of this study was to examine a mechanism that activates the attentional network in the projecting area of the brain. The results provide a new approach to anxiety, depression and agitation in patients with dementia. Activating the surrounding areas of the brain may also offer opportunities to delay the continued decline caused by the disease.

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    For three weeks, researchers helped participants choose meaningful songs and train the patient and caregiver on how to use a portable media player loaded with the self-selected music collection.

    "When you put headphones on patients with dementia and you play familiar music, they come to life," said Jace King, a graduate student of the brain network lab and first author of the study. "Music is like an anchor, connecting the patient in reality."

    Using a functional MRI, researchers scanned patients to mimic areas of the brain that were illuminated by listening to music excerpts of 20 seconds rather than silence. The researchers played eight music excerpts from the patient's music collection, eight clips of the same music played upside down and eight blocks of silence. The researchers compared the images of each scan.

    The researchers discovered that music activates the brain, provoking the communication of whole regions. Listening to the personal soundtrack, the Visual network, the network of projections, the Executive network and the pairs of cerebelly and cortico-cerebelly networks all showed significantly higher functional connectivity.

    Brain care Alzheimer diagram
    This is a diagram of the brain networks involved in the treatment of attention.

    "This is objective evidence obtained through brain imaging, which shows that music that makes sense to patients is an alternative way to communicate with those with Alzheimer's disease," said Norman Foster, MD, Director of the Centre for Alzheimer's disease at the University of Utah health and lead author of the study. "The ways of language and Visual memory are damaged at the onset of the disease, but personalized music programs can activate the brain, especially for patients who lose contact with their environment.

    However, these results are not sufficient to be conclusive. Researchers note the small size of the sample (17 participants) for this study. In addition, the study consisted of only one Imaging session for each patient. It remains to be known whether the effects identified in this study persist beyond a brief period of stimulation or if other areas of memory or mood are enhanced by changes in neural activation and long-term connectivity.

    "In our society, dementia diagnoses are increasingly frequent and are very resource-seeking," said Mr. Anderson. "No one says that playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer's disease, but this could make the symptoms easier to manage, decrease the cost of care and improve the patient's quality of life."

    University of Utah health. "Music activates regions of the brain spared by Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily, April 28, 2018. Translated by Julien frère + Google translate may 9, 2018.

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