Music memory and madness

The world is alive with the sounds of music. Babies react to sounds even before birth and that sense of hearing reaches far and wide within the brain of nearly every individual, regardless of race, ethnicity, intelligence, and politics. Music as sound is a primary language. As such, can music be associated with the integrities of memory and madness?

One of my earliest research projects studied how music may be associated with memory and madness – behavior. Those were the days when Alzheimer’s Disease was limited terminology and insurances didn’t cover cognitive disorders. New research technologies demonstrate that music may help prevent and treat memory and madness in senior populations.

In brain imaging scans, music has been shown to excite pleasure areas of the brain. Due to expenses, these studies have been very small.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the use of music as therapy shows evidence that it positively affects many behaviors and memory functions. A new, large study at the University of Wisconsin explores music and Alzheimer’s Disease effectiveness. The State of Wisconsin and the University are investing $300,000 for this study. The study is part of a Catalyst Grant program at the University. Are the simple power of sounds and music effective in reducing memory and madness?

Music therapy has been studied as being beneficial for developmental diseases such as Autism as a treatment modality but not as a cure. The music therapy for autism studies, however, have been small but yielded promising results if further investment were granted.

With a rise in senior population, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia bring memory studies to the forefront. Therapeutic interventions and successes involving music therapy with the symptoms of memory loss offer exciting research opportunities. Wisconsin’s population of those age 65 or over is slightly higher than the USA national average. The new University of Wisconsin studies may have deep impact.

Access to different music resources are friendlier as more adults use MP3 players and cellular phones. Government (and private) sponsored organizations such as Older Adults Technology Services help seniors make use of computers and download resources. Many senior centers now offer courses to learn about computer use. Access to free music is virtually limitless through websites online. At no point in history has music been as accessible as it is now. Using music as a therapy tool may deliver some extraordinary benefits.

At a university in Belfast, a rather large and long study found that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents. Studies also show that music, as a therapeutic intervention can relieve anxiety, depression in older people. Depression and anxiety may somewhat lead to cognitive impairment. There are many new studies citing evidence that music reaps many benefits for all ages.

Anesthesiologists have found that post-surgical patients listening to jazz music in the recovery room are more relaxed when researchers monitored heart rate. Is mellow jazz helpful for hospital use?

Technology can often confound other technologies. New hearing aids use special integrated sound technologies that facilitate conversations. Many older people wearing these hearing aids find that listening to MP3 music on these results in unwanted noise. You may need a simpler, older hearing aid for music listening.

Listening to loud music while driving may help you feel relaxed but studies show that it can lead to distracted driving and accidents.

Using music as therapy can be conducive as an aid in treating memory and madness issues. Much of the noted research has been published in the last two years, most in the past few months It is a growing field seeking more professionals. Of course, there are some people who simply don’t enjoy music listening. That’s what makes therapy very challenging. Music may offer no positive effects or increase anxiety even more.

Music therapy has many benefits for Alzheimer’s disease. It may help by soothing an agitated person, igniting associative memories, engage the mind even in the disease’s later stages, and improve appetite and eating in some cases. It is beneficial for symptoms of cognitive loss but it is not a cure. At best, like many drugs, it may slow progression.

So, if you remember too many tip-of-the-tongue memory losses, it may be time to schedule a cognitive assessment test with a memory healthcare professional. There are many available technologies and there are conflicting opinions about the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Sometimes, for example, it may be neurovascular episodes. Take more than one test at different centers to assure a fair and less partial diagnosis. There’s much money to be made in the business of Alzheimer’s disease.

Author William Congreve (1697) wrote:

“Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”

and brings about the question, Can music heal? More studies are focusing on music therapy as a means of treating memory and madness. Music may not be all-encompassing but, with greater availability, may prove beneficial. More large research on music therapy should be investigated.

Senior moments in memory

Ever experienced senior moments? You walk into the kitchen, open the refrigerator door, and forget what you wanted. Some people call that a senior moment. Everybody has these moments: Car keys go missing? You can’t retrieve a once-familiar name? Anybody, at any age, might experience this but if you are over 55, these incidents may become more frequent. These memory lapses are often referred as senior moments. Does this mean Alzheimer’s is setting in? Can other things be happening? Are senior moments dangerous?

Cognitive memory research delves into senior moments as possible precursors to Alzheimer Disease, a prevailing, degenerative memory condition often associated with aging. There are also incidents where Alzheimer’s may occur at younger ages. Yet research still hasn’t approached sure-fire ways of pinpointing the causes and treatments of this well publicized disease that might result in senior moments. Alzheimer’s Disease remains the most generally talked about cognitive disease, and one of the most feared.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the new name for dementia and is nicely classed into stages of memory decline. Among physicians, it’s easy to jump on senior moments as harbingers of memory decline. The diagnosis requires noticeable impairments of at least two of these categories:

•Memory
•Communication and language
•Ability to focus and pay attention
•Reasoning and judgment
•Visual perception

We will go over some of these possible symptoms. You may find that they may not be Alzheimer’s related. You may find that you can do something about them. Having many senior moments may be frightening but they may not be as threatening as you might think. They may just be very annoying.

Based on this clinical indicator, there are approximately 5.2 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, including some under 65. Of these, nearly twice as many women are affected as men. According to the Alzheimer Association prediction, Alzheimer’s disease will soar from 5 million to 13.8 million by 2050. Those are a lot of senior moments!

Needless to say, these astounding numbers and a rapidly aging population, ignite many pharmaceutical companies to deliver Alzheimer-prevention drugs that might fend off the effects. Yet, with the very exception of some mild cases (which may or may not have Alzheimer’s), drugs may rarely help the condition.

Some of the reasons may be due to the debating probabilities of what lies behind why only some people get Alzheimer’s and many don’t. The obvious theory is genetics – it runs in the family. While certain genes and proteins have been isolated, much more research is needed. While genetics is often theorized, the vagueness of the hereditary links confound research results. That is often why genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis are difficult to cure.

For many years, sleep research has shown evidence that sleep, particularly dreams and sleep, improve long-term memory and emotions. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter often used with skeletal muscle movement. Yet, as you dream, acetylcholine rushes up your midbrain and helps “code” memory tracts. This shift is often associated with normal sleep paralysis as the neurotransmitter moves from muscles to the frontal areas of your brain. Failure of this process may be involved in poor memory retention and organization.

In the last decade, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has identified that patients with deposits of amyloid plaque in brain areas may be the cause of cognitive irregularities in Alzheimer patients. As MRI becomes more sensitive further trials aim to see the connections. A recent Duke University study indicates plaque may lead to forms of cognitive impairment. Small MRI research has also shown that there may be other factors at play in predicting cognitive dysfunction issues. The problem of relying on MRI research is that this important tool is very expensive and large studies can’t be performed to see if these deposits might be associated with those senior moments.

One indicator of senior moments may be time and passivity. Think about games like Trivial Pursuits. Cognition often links to rich associations. That’s why most people with senior moments can still perform well at work, driving, athletics, and general life. These rich associations almost become like instinctual memories. The use of Gestalt dynamics of working memory help imprint more associations to familiar and interesting events that create attentive impressions. Is it possible that focus and attention may somehow be diffused when activity and social interactions are compromised? Can this be associated with senior moments?

More new research is revealing some exciting insights for memory enhancement but these are still at mouse level. One study, just published in Cell Journal, highlights a hormone factor that may enhance memories for life extension.

Barring other diseases, the brains plasticity grows stronger with physical activity, particularly small amounts of aerobic exercise.

Cognitive decline has been shown to slow with active social integration with friends, family, and communities. Social involvement of any kind may excite the senses that contribute to associative memory.

Maintaining creativity may also help reduce cognitive decline. Whether you are active in arts, crafts, or other things, it helps add plasticity to your brain.

The role of conscious awareness is a significant factor in reducing cognitive decline. One theory of Alzheimer’s is that a deterioration occurs in the pre-frontal cortex that reduces access to the midbrain’s memory storage called the limbic system. This area is associated with emotion and most memories are stored through likes and dislikes. These are important associations. Being consciously aware is significant at using those emotions to access memories.

Brainwashing often occurs as a means of sensory deprivation. When it comes to noticing more senior moments in life, seek out stimulation. Staying stimulated and directed may be an important tool to help avoid senior moments. Playing games on a computer or smartphone and accepting new challenges is associated with synaptic growth in neural networks. That helps memory retention.

Little known, is how many senior moments may be micro-size transient ischemic attacks or strokes that can affect parts of your brain throughout your lifespan. They may not be consciously felt but can be responsible for some senior moments. The result of these very tiny strokes over time may lead to Alzheimer symptoms. This shows that memory decline may be vascular in nature.

Few people realize that visual and hearing loss may play roles in memory decline. Possible retinopathy and other visual diseases may impair senses and contribute to memory loss. Studies also indicate the importance of hearing (listening) and learning. Having a loss of hearing may be associated with decline in memory functioning. It is one possible symptom of Alzheimer’s but may not be Alzheimer-related.

These are theories and so many other factors can help enhance or stabilize memory. When you begin noticing a higher rate of senior moments, check with your doctor. My recommendation is to seek out a major neurocognitive health facility. The depth of cognitive research and coping with preventing memory decline may offer some promising therapies. It may not be due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Not all cognitive declines may be associated with Alzheimer’s.

Senior moments and memory lapses are normal and may be found at different ages. Reasons may not be known. Hopefully, we’ll have possible treatments soon. Meanwhile, stay active and remember. Got an occasional senior moment? Don’t worry, it may be normal. Alzheimer Disease may be over-diagnosed but frequent senior moments can be very disturbing.