Listening to personalised music programme may help alleviate anxiety, improve mood and reduce other symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, says a study. The findings showed that music activates the attentional network in the saliency region of the brain, offering a new way to approach anxiety, depression and agitation in patients with dementia. Activation of neighbouring regions of the brain may also offer opportunities to delay the continued decline caused by the disease. “People with dementia are confronted by a world that is unfamiliar to them, which causes disorientation and anxiety,” said Jeff Anderson, Associate Professor at the University of Utah, in the US.
“We believe music will tap into the salience network of the brain that is still relatively functioning,” he noted in the paper appearing in the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. Further, the researchers found that music activates the brain, causing whole region to communicate. By listening to the personal soundtrack, the visual network, the salience network, the executive network and the cerebellar and corticocerebellar network pairs all showed significantly higher functional connectivity. “Brain imaging showed that personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease,” said Norman Foster, Director at the varsity.
“Language and visual memory pathways are damaged early as the disease progresses, but personalised music programmes can activate the brain, especially for patients who are losing contact with their environment,” Foster said. However, these results are by no means conclusive, the researchers noted. While “no one says playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it might make the symptoms more manageable, decrease the cost of care and improve a patient’s quality of life”, Anderson said.
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, listening to classical music in addition to taking your medicines may give you some added advantage as researchers have found that music significantly enhances the effect of anti-hypertensive drugs. Music enhances the beneficial effects of medication a short time after it is taken to control high blood pressure, showed the findings published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“We observed that music improved heart rate and enhanced the effect of anti-hypertensives for about an hour after they were administered,” said study coordinator Vitor Engracia Valenti, Professor at Sao Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil. For the study, the researchers performed an experiment to measure the effects of musical auditory stimulus associated with anti-hypertensive medication on heart rate and blood pressure in a small group of patients with well-controlled hypertension.
On one day, after taking their usual oral anti-hypertensive medication, patients listened to instrumental music via earphones for 60 minutes at the same volume. As control, on the other day, they underwent the same research protocol, but the earphones were not turned on. Heart rate variability was measured at rest and at 20, 40 and 60 minutes after oral medication.
Several statistical and mathematical techniques were used to detect differences between heart rates at different times, with high precision and sensitivity. Analysis of the data showed heart rate diminishing significantly 60 minutes after medication when patients listed to music in the period. Heart rate did not fall as significantly when they did not listen to music.
Blood pressure also responded more strongly to medication when they listened to music, the study said.”We found that the effect of anti-hypertension medication on heart rate was enhanced by listening to music,” Valenti said.
One of the hypotheses raised by the researchers is that music stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, increases gastrointestinal activity and accelerates absorption of anti-hypertensive medication, intensifying its effects on heart rate.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems constitute the autonomic nervous system, which maintains homeostasis. The sympathetic nervous system accelerates heart rate, constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure.
The parasympathetic nervous system controls the body at rest, slowing the heart, lowering blood pressure, and stabilising blood sugar and adrenaline.