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Table 1 Clinical trials of MT for the cognition of AD

From: Music therapy is a potential intervention for cognition of Alzheimer’s Disease: a mini-review

Reference Music therapy technique Sample Therapy time Mainly results
Irish M et al., 2006 [20] Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ from ‘The Four Seasons’ on a cassette recorder as a background during the test 10 mild AD, 10 healthy elderly; everyone is in MT and silence condition two occasions (silence and music) at the same time of day, exactly 1 week apart The recall on the autobiographical memory of AD in music condition improved; A significant reduction was on the State Trait Anxiety Inventory in the music condition.
Bruer RA et al., 2007 [25] listen to the songs including singing along and playing instrument 17 dementia with cross-over design (see video in control condition) 1 h/week × 8 weeks The scores of MMSE improved immediately after and the next day of MT compared with control group.
Ozdemir L et al., 2009 [26] multisensory stimulation (including MT, painting pictures, and orientation interventions) 27 mild AD 4 sessions/week × 3 weeks The scores of MMSE increased, and the scores of Geriatric Depression Scale and Beck Anxiety Scale decreased. This effect continued for three weeks after completion.
Meilán García JJ et al., 2012 [17] different five kinds of music, including happy, sad, cafeteria sound, music without an emotional component, and absence of sound 25 AD (with five sessions individually) 30 min/session, and each session spaced by at least one week Sad music was found to be the most effective to autobiographic memory.
Arroyo-Anlló EM et al., 2013 [15] listen to the Spanish songs 20 AD with familiar music, 20 AD with unfamiliar music; all were mild or moderate AD 2–4 min/session × 3 sessions/week × 3 months AD patients who received a familiar music intervention showed a stabilization or improvement in aspect of SC. The AD group with unfamiliar music showed poorer scores in MMSE and FAS test after intervention, whereas the familiar music group did not vary in their cognitive performance.
Narme P et al., 2014 [24] music played on a CD player, and excerpts covered different styles (e.g., classical instrumental, familiar songs); Participants were asked to participate by singing and/or by using percussion instruments moderate or severe AD, 18 in MT group, 19 in cooking group 1 h × twice a week × 1 month Both music and cooking improved the patients’ emotional state and decreased the severity of their behavioral disorders, as well as reduced caregiver distress. No benefit was on the cognitive status.
Särkämö T et al., 2014 [23] sing/listen familiar songs with vocal exercises; rhythmic movements (singing group) and reminiscence and discussions (listening group) mild and moderate dementia: 27 in singing group, 29 in listening group, 28 in control group 1.5 h/session, weekly to daily × 10 weeks Both singing and music listening improved mood, orientation, and remote episodic memory to a lesser extent, also attention and executive function and general cognition. Singing enhanced short-term and working memory and caregiver well-being, whereas music listening had a positive effect on QOL.
Satoh M et al., 2015 [10] Singing training (using karaoke and the YUBA Method, passive listen and sing themselves) AD: 10 in MT group, 10 in control group once a week (60 min) or more × 6 months Time for Japanese Raven’s Colored Progressive Matrices reduced. NPI score decreased. Sleep time prolonged.
Li CH et al., 2015 [11] listen to Mozart’s Sonata (KV 448) and Pachelbel’s Canon with headphones Mild AD: 20 in MT group, 21 in control group 30 min daily in the morning and before sleep × 6 months CASI-estimated MMSE and CASI in the MT group were less decreased than control group without statistical significance, and the change of abstraction domain in the MT group was better. The score changes of NPI had no statistical significance in two groups.
Palisson J et al., 2015 [19] Three texts were separately sung by the Ode to Joy by Beethoven (melody), spoken/recorded by Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin (movie sequence), or spoken alone; each text was visually presented. 12 mild AD, 15 healthy controls; either a musical (sung) or a nonmusical association (spoken associated to a silent movie sequence) or without association (spoken alone) Each text contained eight lines, and texts were ask individual to remember them step by step. Sung texts were better remembered than spoken texts for both groups, both immediately and after a retention delay.
Kim HJ et al., 2016 [27] multidomain cognitive stimulation (art, music, recollection and horticultural therapy); MT involved playing melodies and/or accompanying chords for popular songs AD with CDR = 1; 32 training, 21 controls 1 h × five times/week (MT just for once a week) × 6 months Training group showed improvement in the word-list recognition and recall test scores versus the control. No change in the overall CDR score, but the domain of community affairs improved in the cognitive intervention group. QOL-AD of caregivers was slightly improved in the intervention group.
Gómez Gallego M et al., 2016 [22] listen to the music which they like; patients should greet, dance, play instruments and so on 42 mild to moderate AD 45 min/session, twice a week × 6 weeks Significant improvement was observed in memory, orientation, depression and anxiety in AD patients. In addition, improvement was observed in anxiety in mild ones, and in delirium, hallucinations, agitation, irritability, and language disorders in moderate AD patients.
  1. MT music therapy, AD Alzheimer’s Disease, MMSE mini-mental state evaluation, SC self-consciousness, FAS frontal assessment short, QOL quality of life, NPI neuropsychiatric inventory, CASI cognitive abilities screening instrument, CDR clinical dementia rating