How Music and Social Engagement Provides Healthy Aging and Prevents Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia

  • Hanne Mette RidderEmail author


Music is much more than a simple stimulus bringing individual pleasure; it also facilitates interpersonal synchrony. In this chapter, evidence from various disciplines is brought together to provide a new perspective on how music stimulates social engagement and learning and further affects cognitive reserve and the way we age. Music and musical elements affect listeners differently but seem to regulate our body and brain at a much deeper level than we are aware of. When music touches and engages us, a release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine follows. This process involves the brain stem (more precisely the locus coeruleus), and a compensatory effect is observed. By engaging in music from early childhood, preventive mechanisms add to healthy aging and may even slow down the development of dementia symptoms, although it cannot prevent dementia. In addition, through musical interaction, meaningful expression of psychosocial needs may indirectly lead to a reduction of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. For the person with severe dementia, with sensory and cognitive decline, this offers a healthy means of remaining active, autonomous and integrated.


Music Healthy aging Dementia Social engagement Norepinephrine BPSD 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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