Original Article

Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 403-405

First online:

Musical experience and dementia. Hypothesis

  • Mark D. GrantAffiliated withStritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Email author 
  • , Jacob A. BrodyAffiliated withSchool of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Background and aims: Cognitively stimulating activities appear to protect against the development of dementing illness — playing a musical instrument may be one of these activities. Consistent with this notion, the aim of this study was to explore the hypothesis that dementia might be less common among orchestral musicians. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 23 older orchestral musicians who were former members of a single orchestra was carried out. Prior musical background, family history, and health history were obtained. A cognitive screen was administered in person or by telephone. Musicians were also queried regarding their awareness of living former orchestral colleagues with dementia. Results: The mean age of participants was 76.9±6.8 (SD). No participant was aware of a living former or current orchestral member with either reported or suspected dementia. Conclusions: The results are consistent with the hypothesis that dementing illness may be less among orchestral musicians — possibly from a lifetime engaged in a cognitively stimulating endeavor.

Key Words

Cognition dementia music older musicians