Increased Functional Connectivity After Listening to Favored Music in Adults With Alzheimer Dementia

J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2019;6(1):56-62. doi: 10.14283/jpad.2018.19.


Background: Personalized music programs have been proposed as an adjunct therapy for patients with Alzheimer disease related dementia, and multicenter trials have now demonstrated improvements in agitation, anxiety, and behavioral symptoms. Underlying neurophysiological mechanisms for these effects remain unclear.

Methods: We examined 17 individuals with a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease related dementia using functional MRI following a training period in a personalized music listening program.

Results: We find that participants listening to preferred music show specific activation of the supplementary motor area, a region that has been associated with memory for familiar music that is typically spared in early Alzheimer disease. We also find widespread increases in functional connectivity in corticocortical and corticocerebellar networks following presentation of preferred musical stimuli, suggesting a transient effect on brain function.

Conclusions: Findings support a mechanism whereby attentional network activation in the brain's salience network may lead to improvements in brain network synchronization.

Keywords: Personalized music; dementia; fMRI; functional connectivity; supplementary motor area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dementia / complications
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Music*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology