You’ve likely heard a song that evoked a memory or a feeling. This is common for most (if not all) people. That is shown, as an example, in the documentary “Alive Inside,” in which director, Dan Cohen, displays the power of music first hand. Patients with alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have a chance to listen to their favorite music from the past and things take a turn for the better.
“I didn’t know there was already research about music and memory,” recalls Cohen. “I just wanted to help.”
And help he did. This instance of one patient, Henry, shows a swinging change from inert and unresponsive to tapping and singing to the beat. He also seems to become himself again.
After Henry’s music is taken off, he snaps to reality, answering questions directly. “I’m crazy about music,” he says, emphatically.
When asked what his favorite song is, he breaks into a rendition of Cab Calloway’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
“You see the tension releasing (as they listen to their iPods),” says Susan Crossley, a certified dementia practitioner and activities director at Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. “The foot tapping, the wrinkles in their foreheads fade away and you know the music is reaching them.”
The research continues, as to what exactly is happening, but one thing is for sure. Keep listening.