IN YOUR PRIME: Listening to music may help you stay sharp

What if listening to music could help your brain stay sharp?

Recently published research shows a link between music and boosting cognitive function.

University of Pittsburgh researchers analyzed studies of active music-making interventions. These were meant to support older adults with dementia or likely mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Results published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed music can offer cognitive benefits to adults with these memory conditions. It also revealed the possibility of helping mood and quality of life.

The systematic review and meta-analysis involved nine studies involving 495 total participants. Researchers discovered that cognitive functioning was positively affected.

“This review shows that music-making has a small but statistically significant effect on cognitive functioning for older adults with probable MCI or dementia. Future music interventions can benefit from rigorous intervention protocols that isolate specific activities,” the authors concluded.

“We are excited to see these results because participating in music, like singing in a choir or playing in a drum circle, is a safe, engaging activity that our research demonstrates can support cognition at a critical time for older adults facing cognitive decline,” lead author Jennie L. Dorris, MM, of the University of Pittsburgh said in a press release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 16 million people in the U.S. have cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment occurs in some older adults who have more memory or thinking issues than their peers, the National Institute on Aging said. There’s no single cause of MCI. As someone ages, the risk of developing MCI progress. Diabetes, stroke and depression are some conditions that may enhance MCI risk.

The Mayo Clinic reported that MCI may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease-caused dementia later in life. It may increase the risk for other neurological conditions, too. Yet some people who have MCI don’t get worse. Eventually, a few may get better.

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