[Music therapy in Alzheimer's disease: is an evidence-based approach possible?].

Laboratorio di Epidemiologia e Neuroimaging, IRCCS San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia.
Recenti progressi in medicina 06/2001; 92(5):317-21.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The application of music therapy to Alzheimer's patients is relatively recent. The studies available in literature show that music therapy has a positive effect either on mood or cognition. However, the generalization of data is difficult because these researches have lacked methodological design rigour. Based on the application of this rehabilitative technique in our Alzheimer Unit in Brescia and on the recent researches of music neuroanatomy, this work tries to identify which processes are involved in the therapeutic effect of music therapy. Despite the perceived effect on mood and socialisation abilities, cultural and methodological problems hinder to demonstrate the efficacy of music therapy. Information about neurophysiological and neurochemical correlates of music therapy are so poor that the use of this technique is often based on the assumption that the supposed positive effect of music is enough to justify its application. The methodological problem is related to the evaluation of outcomes. The fact that those studies which investigated the effects of music therapy were characterized by less specific indicators (cognition, behavior) and by less standardized instruments made difficult to generalize and quantify the results. The aim of the study is to organize the present knowledge with a systematic approach so that further researches lead to base the application of music therapy on evidence instead of on singular clinical finding.