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Music jogs memory for patients with brain injuries

It seems that just about everyone likes music. People like music for many reasons, from the powerful lyrics to its relaxing effect. For some patients, music might even help them with their medical and mental recoveries.

A recent study published in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation looked at severe brain injury patients and found that they have “music evoked autobiographical memories” (MEAMs) in the same way that healthy people do.

All of the patients had difficulty remembering some part of their lives. The patients then listened to different songs that were popular from 1961 to 2010, depending on the patient’s age. While listening to the songs, the patients completed a questionnaire using a scale of 5-points to rate various aspects of the song.

The patients often associated the music with certain memories from their lives. In addition, some patients had strong emotional reactions to the songs. The study was small, only looking at five patients to start. One patient was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash and couldn’t remember many parts of his life. A second patient attempted suicide and suffered from permanent brain damage as a result.

The study’s author, a clinical neuropsychologist, said that music might be useful as a tool for people with memory problems after suffering a brain injury. The study authors also noted that music might be a potential therapy tool for patients with neurological issues, including Alzheimer’s disease.

It is possible everyone, including people in New York, may benefit from listening to a little more music, even if we haven’t suffered from a head injury. The results look promising and should be interesting to follow as the experts continue their studies.

Source: Medical Daily, “Pop songs help brain-injured patients remember: Study shows music is a ‘powerful stimulus’,” Peter Sergo, Dec. 23, 2013

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