Detection of Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s may soon be available through the use of a musical game. According to You and Your Health, Mind over Music, Alzheimer’s Hit’s a High Note, by Holly St. Lifer, AARP, August/September 2012, there is a new software for music development that may help to diagnose dementia much sooner. “Users compose songs and then pay a Concentration-like game that involves recalling excerpts of melody pairs and other memory tasks.”
The article states that signs of more serious cognitive decline can be tracked back to the results of the music software that is being created by Adam Boulanger, Ph.D. Clinical trials should bring the software to the market within a year.
According the report, the software can chart a person's beginning recall skills and then later compare new results of recall to determine any memory deficits.
Musical skill memories may not be an accurate test for all cognitive skills according to past and present case studies.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, persons with dementia have been known to remember past musical abilities, either playing instruments or singing when all other cognitive skills have been lost.
Music, Mind and Brain @ Goldsmiths, Musical Knowledge in Dementia, Rohani Omar, Dementia Research Center, Institute of Neurology, 28th of October 2010, discusses cases that indicate that language and music may be separate functions, in that a person with language difficulties are sometimes able to sing and play music with amazing skill.
Benefits of music to persons with stroke and dementia have been found to be astronomical.
Music has been found to calm persons with Alzheimer's, other forms of dementia, and stroke. According to the Harvard Gazette, Music on the brain, by William J. Cromie, March 22, 2001 in facilities where there is a high level of tension, calming melodies reduce “confusion and disagreements. Added to brain training, listening or participating in music can make a great difference in the quality of life for person's with dementia.
Neurons, neuro-transmitters and chemicals in the temporal, frontal and limbic lobes all work together to bring about positive feelings.
The temporal lobes of the brain just above the ears are believed to be the areas that capture sound of music and send it on to process in the frontal lobe. The limbic lobe in the center area under the cortex processes the feelings that make the person either happy or annoyed about the received message. Seratonin, said to be the "happy chemical" might be responsible for carrying the positive message back and perhaps making storage and recall possible.
Scientist still have a lot to learn about music, language and all other functions of the brain. Perhaps the music software being developed for detection will help researchers find the answer for the differences in music versus language retention.
Music therapy has been beneficial in helping those with cognitive decline to improve both physically and mentally.