Songs that keep the mind younger

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Music brings back memory
By Jerry Brownstein
Music has always been an important part of human culture, and new research is uncovering the reasons why it has such a profound impact on our brains and bodies. These studies show that music produces many beneficial effects including reduced stress, lower blood pressure and boosting the immune system. But perhaps its greatest medical use will be in the treatment of dementia.

We have all had the experience of certain songs bringing back memories from the past, and these musical recollections often remain intact for people with dementia. Many Alzheimer’s patients can sing the lyrics of old songs from their past - even if they cannot remember the names of their own children. This finding is backed up by imaging studies which show that these songs activate areas of the brain that remain strong even in the later stages of the disease.

Music-based treatments for people with cognitive decline is a growing field. Nicc Johnson, who grew up here in Ibiza, is on the leading edge of this with a music service called Muru Music Health. His technology analyzes music in the same way the human brain does. It quickly identifies which songs are most likely to maximise the benefits of stimulation for the user based on their age, language, place of birth and much more. These songs are placed into playlists which are easy to access from any device and can be set up remotely for people with advanced cognitive decline. Nicc launched Muru Music Health in Australia at the end of 2020 and will be bringing it to the UK and then the rest of the world in 2021.


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