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BEDREHELSE-Bedre helse og livskvalitet

Effects of music instrument lessons on brain plasticity, mood, and quality of life in Alzheimer patients

Alternative title: Effekter av instrumentalundervisning på nevroplastisitet, humør og livskvalitet på Alzheimers pasienter

Awarded: NOK 14.4 mill.

Music has powerful effects on memory in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, although there is anecdotal evidence for beneficial effects of active music interventions in patients with AD, there is lack of high-quality research investigating this issue, and the cognitive, emotional, and social factors that contribute to potentially beneficial effects of music making in AD patients are largely unknown. In this research project, a group of AD patients, patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and individuals with Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) participate in a one-year intervention consisting of singing lessons and choir singing specifically tailored for these individuals. Another group participates in a one-year physical activity intervention. Brain scanning (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) will be used to determine the effects of music making and physical exercise on brain age, changes of brain morphology, and a potential slowdown of brain degeneration. We will also determine how these effects are driven by cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of the music intervention to further develop effective music therapy for individuals with, or at risk for AD. In addition, changes in the quality of life of patients and family members / family caregivers is assessed. In cooperation with the Bergen municipality, and a strong network of national and international partners, the interventions for patients with AD, MCI, or individuals with SCD will be put into action, involving training of music therapists, and communication of results to patients, patient groups, therapists, and the general public. Preliminary evidence shows promising effects of music making and physical exercise in our study participants: Their brains got younger during the course of the intervention.

Music has powerful effects on memory in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. However, although there is anecdotal evidence for beneficial effects of active music interventions in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), there is lack of high-quality research investigating this issue, and the cognitive, emotional, and social factors that contribute to potentially beneficial effects of music making in AD patients are largely unknown. In a randomized controlled intervention trial, a cohort of AD patients who have learned a musical instrument during childhood and adolescence, but did not continue playing during their professional career, will undergo twelve months of instrumental music lessons specifically tailored for AD patients. Structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be used to determine changes in brain age (as compared to two control groups), and voxel-based morphometry will be computed to determine contributions of different factors of the music intervention (cognitive, emotional, and social) to plastic changes of brain morphology, and a potential deceleration of brain atrophy. In addition, quality of life of patients and family members / family caregivers will be assessed. In cooperation with the Bergen municipality, and a strong network of national and international partners, the neurocognitive music therapy will be implemented, involving training of music therapists, and communication of results to patients, patient groups, and therapists. The applicant is among the world-leading scientists on music and the brain and has high-ranking publications on (a) effects of music making on brain plasticity, (b) on neural correlates of memory for music, and (c) neurocognitive music therapy. The applicant already has preliminary evidence from piloting studies for clear effects of music making in AD patients on mood, and even hints for a slower progression of the disease.

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BEDREHELSE-Bedre helse og livskvalitet