A fascinating new study offers clues that might explain why nostalgic music is so effective at evoking memories for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related memory loss. Evidence suggests the part of the brain that stores memories is closely linked to the part that associates music with memories and emotion, according to researchers at University of California at Davis.
The study’s author, Petr Janata, explained it this way:
"What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person's face in your mind's eye," Janata said. "Now we can see the association between those two things—the music and the memories."
During the study, Janata’s team found that hit music from the period in which each participant was between 8 and 18 years old created an especially strong emotional reaction. ...
We find this kind of research enlightening. Many EPOCH communities host singers and performers who play hits from our residents’ childhood and teen years. It’s what residents enjoy. This study gives us insight into why the hits of Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller are so powerful for some of our memory care residents.
(Thanks to the team at Right at Home for passing along this study.)