An overview of the use of music therapy in the context of Alzheimer's disease: a report of a French expert group

Dementia (London). 2013 Sep;12(5):619-34. doi: 10.1177/1471301212438290. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Objectives: The aim of this overview is to present the developments of music therapy in France, its techniques, mechanisms and principal indications, mainly in the context of Alzheimer's disease.

Methods: An international review of the literature on music therapy applied to Alzheimer's disease was conducted using the principal scientific search engines. A work group of experts in music therapy and psychosocial techniques then considered the different points highlighted in the review of literature and discussed them.

Results and discussion: Clinical and neurophysiological studies have enlightened some positive benefits of music in providing support for people with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders. Music therapy acts mainly through emotional and psycho-physiological pathways. It includes a series of techniques that can respond to targeted therapeutic objectives. Some studies have shown that music therapy reduces anxiety, alleviates periods of depression and aggressive behaviour and thus significantly improves mood, communication and autonomy of patients.

Conclusion: Psychosocial interventions, such as music therapy, can contribute to maintain or rehabilitate functional cognitive and sensory abilities, as well as emotional and social skills and to reduce the severity of some behavioural disorders.

Keywords: behavioural disorders; dementia; mood; music therapy; psychosocial intervention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome*