Scientists have helped severely brain-injured patients recall personal memories with the aid of popular music, according to the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. The study was the first of its kind, looking at “music-evoked autobiographical memories” in patients who had acquired brain injuries (ABIs) instead of those with Alzheimer’s or no brain malfunction.
Doctors Amee Baird and Severine Samson played bits from Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 songs spanning decades to five patients. They also played the songs to control subjects, people without any brain injuries. Everyone recorded how familiar they were with the song, how they felt about it and the memories they recalled when hearing it. It turns out, the frequency of the memories that the music evoked was pretty similar among patients and controls. Surprisingly, the person who recorded the most number of memories was someone who had a brain injury.
From here, the scientists hope they can use music to help brain injury patients recall their memories.
“The findings suggest that music is an effective stimulus for eliciting autobiographical memories and may be beneficial in the rehabilitation of autobiographical amnesia,” they say.
Read the full study online here.
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