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Music activation by Salience Network could alleviate anxiety in Alzheimer's disease

Ever shivering with a particularly moving piece of music? You can thank the Salienznetzwerk of the brain for this emotional joint. Surprisingly, this region also remains an island of memory, which is spared from the consequences of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the University of Utah Health are looking for music therapy treatments in this brain region to alleviate anxiety in dementia patients. Their research findings will appear in the April online issue of the "Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease".

"People with dementia are confronted with a world they are unaware of, which causes disorientation and anxiety," said Jeff Anderson, MD, Ph. D., associate professor in radiology at U of U Health and contributing author of Study: "We believe that music will open up the salience network of the brain, which is still relatively functioning."

Earlier work showed the effect of a personalized music program for mood in dementia patients. This study investigated a mechanism that activates the attention network in the salivary region of the brain. The results provide a new way to counter anxiety, depression and restlessness in patients with dementia. Activation of adjacent regions of the brain may also provide opportunities to delay the continued decline caused by the disease.

For three weeks, the researchers helped participants choose meaningful songs and sharpened the patient and caregiver on how to use a portable media player with the self-selected music collection

"If you bring dementia patients headphones, they play familiar music 'They come alive,' said Jace King, a student at the Brain Network Lab and first author on paper. "Music is like an anchor that brings the patient back to reality."

Using a functional MRI, the researchers scanned the patients to map the regions of the brain that flashed in 20-second clips of music versus silence. The researchers played eight music clips from the patient's music collection, eight reverse-playing clips of the same music, and eight blocks of silence. The researchers compared the images of each scan.

The researchers found that music activates the brain and causes entire regions to communicate. By listening to the personal soundtrack, the visual network, the salience network, the executive network, and the cerebellar and cortico-cerebellum network pairs demonstrated significantly higher functional connectivity.

"This is an objective evidence from the imaging that shows personally meaningful music alternative route for communicating with patients with Alzheimer's disease," said Norman Foster, MD, director of the Center for Alzheimer's Care at U of U Health and "The language and visual memory pathways are damaged early as the disease progresses, but personalized music programs can activate the brain, especially for patients who lose contact with their environment."

However, these results are by no means conclusive , The researchers point to the small sample size (1

7 participants) for this study. In addition, the study included only a single imaging session for each patient. It remains unclear whether the effects identified in this study will persist beyond a brief period of stimulation or whether other areas of memory or mood will be improved over the long term by changes in neural activation and connectivity.

"In our society, the diagnoses of dementia are pyramidal and bribe resources to the maximum," Anderson said. "Nobody says that playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer's disease, but it could make the symptoms more manageable, reduce the cost of care, and improve a patient's quality of life."

This article was made from University materials published by Utah Health. Note: Material may have been edited for length and content. For more information, please contact the source indicated.

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