The effects of drumming on working memory in older adults

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2018 May 4. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13685. Online ahead of print.


Our study investigated the effect of a music training program on working memory (verbal memory, visual memory, and as a part of central executive processing working memory) in older adults. The experimental group was musically trained (drumming and singing), whereas one control group received a literature training program and a second control group was untrained. We randomly assigned 24 participants (all females; M = 77 years and 3 months) to the music group, the literature group, and the untrained group. The training groups were trained for 15 weeks. The three groups did not differ significantly in age, socioeconomic status, music education, musical aptitude, cognitive abilities, or depressive symptoms. We did not find differences in the music group in central executive function. However, we found a potential effect of music training on verbal memory and an impact of music training on visual memory. Musically trained participants remembered more words from a word list than both control groups, and they were able to remember more symbol sequences correctly than the control groups. Our findings show a possible effect of music training on verbal and visual memory in older people.

Keywords: aging; music lessons; music training; older adults; working memory.