Archive for Brain health

Music for Alzheimer’s Patients

Two friends have recently been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment. It feels important to share some thoughts about music and dementia.

After playing the harp many times for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s, I have found familiar music to be most effective. This is music that they know – patriotic tunes, hymns, classical, oldies, big band sounds, love songs, Irish, etc.

Dr. Petr Janata, a neuroscientist of the University of California-Davis validates this observation. He says, “The medial prefrontal cortex (located just behind the eyes) is also one of the last brain regions to deteriorate in Alzheimer’s disease. This may help explain why many Alzheimer’s patients can remember and sing along to tunes from their youth when other memories are lost.”

In a recent study, Janata showed that this region seems to be a central hub linking music, memories and emotion. He used an imaging technique called fMRI to look at the brains of young adults while they listened to song clips from their childhoods. When they heard familiar songs, the medial prefrontal cortex lit up. Activation was strongest when the song evoked a specific memory or emotion.

It is exciting when intuition and science merge! If your family and/or friends are touched by dementia or Alzheimer’s, try familiar music to connect them to memories and/or emotions.


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Lunch Ladies and Lawyers

When I first started doing this work, I had hoped I would be able to connect with many different people.  I have worked with thousands of healthcare professionals over the past 11+ years … and within the past two weeks, I worked with two very different groups: the Lunch Ladies at a large local high school and four groups of legal assistants at a large law firm headquartered in downtown Minneapolis.

Both of these experiences came from invitations by my dear friend and fellow presenter, Kari Berit. The Lunch Ladies were learning about communicating with difficult people. As this can be stressful, Kari saw the value of including a section on relaxation for this group.  And at the law firm, Kari was leading sessions about brain health – a hot topic!  And she had the foresight to include a segment on stress reduction and how it relates to brain health.

 I am grateful for these unique opportunities to connect with very different groups … in my gratitude, I realize my dream is a reality!  Stay focused on your dreams and watch them become realities…

Tami Briggs, Therapeutic Harpist, Musical Reflections, Healing Harp Music


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