Effects of movement music therapy with a percussion instrument on physical and frontal lobe function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial

Aging Ment Health. 2018 Dec;22(12):1614-1626. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1379048. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that performing a rhythmic physical task accompanied by a cognitive task, such as multitask movement music therapy (MMT) involving repetitive rhythmic movement with a musical instrument (the Naruko clapper), may improve pre-frontal cortex (PFC) function and cognitive performance.

Method: Forty-five older adult participants with MCI (74.62 ± 5.05 years) participated in this randomized, controlled, single-blind intervention trial. 35 were assigned to the MMT group and 10 to the control STT group. Before and after the 12-week exercise program, we administered six physical function tests, the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), and measured relative oxyhemoglobin concentrations using 45-multichannel functional near-infrared spectroscopy as a reflection of hemodynamic responses in the PFC.

Results: We observed significant improvements in FAB scores only in the MMT group. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the PFC during the exercise was significantly increased in the MMT group compared with the STT group. The CBF increase was significantly correlated among various channels in the MMT group.

Conclusions: The MMT program appeared to stimulate the PFC and improve cognitive performance in our older adult participants with MCI, suggesting that the repetitive, rhythmic movements of MMT can activate the prefrontal area in older adults.

Trial registration: Clinical Trial Registry Numbers: R000026130, UMIN000022671 (2016/06/08) [(University Hospital Medical Information Network (UMIN) Center] retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Mild cognitive impairment; cognitive function; frontal lobe function; movement music therapy; near-infrared spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • Treatment Outcome