Raymond Tolentino Aoife McMahon Erika Coward


Introduction: Dementia is a prevalent neurodegenerative disorder that interferes with independent and daily functioning. In addition to cognitive decline, individuals with dementia experience behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which involves neuropsychiatric disturbances such as agitation. Studies have suggested music therapy to be an effective part of treatment of individuals with dementia as a method to increase both cognitive function and quality of life (QoL). Therefore, this study aims to construct and test a novel neurologic music therapy (NMT) program to optimize the improvement of cognition and emotional affect in those with mild to severe stages of dementia.

Methods: This research will be designed as a randomized-controlled crossover study, where two groups of participants will be examined: those with mild to moderate dementia and those with severe dementia. The first eight weeks will consist of a no-treatment control period, and the last eight weeks consist of the treatment period, where both participant groups will undergo cognitive and QoL testing at various times.

Expected Results: By comparing the eight-week control period to the eight-week intervention, the results of the study may indicate that NMT benefits individuals with dementia, particularly within the mild to moderate group. Following the intervention, improved cognition, emotional affect, and reduced levels of BPSD in individuals with mild to moderate dementia are anticipated. Participants with severe dementia are expected to have slight improvements within BPSD and emotional affect, and little to no improvement in cognition.

Discussion: Few studies have used NMT as an intervention to treat dementia, with no study utilizing a combination of the three NMT techniques proposed in this study. Furthermore, there has been limited literature focusing on individuals with severe dementia. This proposed study will thus allow for further research on this population.

Conclusion: The proposed NMT program aims to reduce BPSD, and improve emotional affect and cognition within individuals with mild to severe dementia. Future studies may be conducted to examine whether introducing the proposed NMT program may act as a preventative measure of dementia-related cognitive decline.

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Research Protocol