• The Families Advocate

The wonderful ways that music impacts the human brain

Updated: Feb 23

A brief look at the connection that music has with the human brain by witnessing a woman with Alzheimer's Disease recall the ballet she danced when she was a young ballerina.


Alzheimer's is an aggressive disease that progresses through various stages of a persons life. It causes a destruction of memory and other important brain functionality causing diagnosed individuals to slowly lose their memories and identity. Researchers have discovered the connection between music and memory, both good and bad, allowing us to remember things we would otherwise struggle to remember. Hence why you get that nostalgic feeling when you hear an old song after not hearing it over a long span of time.


“...Look at the connection that music has with the human brain...”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT8AdwV0Vkw



The Power of Music


At the beginning of the video, you see a frail elderly woman with very little cognitive function and personality. Just as the music volume is raised for her to hear, she becomes the Prima Ballerina dancing in the beautiful ballet production of Swan Lake, just as she once did as a young, vibrant dancer. She can clearly remember the movements, every rise and fall of her arms, the turn of her face to the crowd, the magic of her feet creating visual art for all to see. And it is all because that music awakened the memories so deeply hidden in her brain.


As a dancer, you rehearse a show over and over again until you can perform it blindfolded. The hours, days, weeks, months, even years she invested into perfecting the beautiful dance has left an imprint on her that the melody from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake brings alive again. Marta Cinta González Saldaña, the woman shown in this video, has provided us with the ability to witness such an incredible display of the cognitive awakening of her memory.


When does Auditory Memory begin?


According to Sciencemag.org, auditory recognition begins as early as a baby in the womb, with the ability to hear and retain the memory of sound before the child is even born. "It may seem implausible that fetuses can listen to speech within the womb, but the sound-processing parts of their brain become active in the last trimester of pregnancy, and sound carries fairly well through the mother's abdomen." (Babies Learn to Recognize Words in the Womb By Beth Skwarecki) This is in part why it is believed that auditory memory is thought to be one of the last thing that leaves us. It is a lifelong imprint as human beings that is unmatched.


“....Years she invested into perfecting the beautiful dance has left an imprint on her that the melody from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake brings alive again."

This video inspires amazement that even though such a life altering disease can rob a person of a vital sense of identity, music awakens that personality and remembrance of their life. And that in and of itself is a beautiful thing.


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