As Memory Slips Away, Music Lingers

By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2009 2:24 PM CDT
The first acquired memories%u2014which often involve music%u2014are the last ones to disappear.   (Creative Commons)
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(Newser) – The Alzheimer’s patient had forgotten nearly everything, including his own name, but the sound of Frank Sinatra moved him to grab his wife and dance. The phenomenon demonstrates how deep-seated music is in the human brain, Sara Davidson writes for the New York Times’ New Old Age blog. “If someone sang to you as a baby, before you even knew words, you’ll respond to music after words are gone.”

Music therapists ply their trade in all sorts of facilities; it’s an important tool because the brain processes music broadly rather than in a single area. “You can’t rub out music unless the brain is completely gone,” says a professor. Music therapy can even slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. “It works faster to relax people than any drug,” says a student who happens to be Davidson’s daughter. “It’s cost-effective and has no side effects.”