Musical memory in Alzheimer disease

Ashley D Vanstone, Lola L Cuddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (SciVal)


This study examines musical memory in 12 patients with moderate or severe AD and 12 healthy, older adult controls. Participants were asked to distinguish familiar from novel tunes, to identify distortions in melodies, and to sing familiar tunes. Comparison of the AD and control groups showed significant impairment of the AD participants. However, a more complex picture emerged as we compared each individual case to the control group. Five of the AD group performed within the control group range on most tasks. An additional four participants showed partial sparing in that they performed below the range of control participants, but their scores were above the level of chance. The final three participants showed near complete loss of musical memory, as their performance was consistently at or near the level of chance. These results are discussed in terms of the literature on the heterogeneity of cognitive presentation in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-128
Number of pages21
JournalAging, Neuropsychology and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date3 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2010


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease/complications
  • Auditory Perception
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Memory Disorders/etiology
  • Music
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reproducibility of Results


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