By: Dr. Linda Carson
When my father was progressing through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, I was a very emotional witness to the long goodbye. It was painful for my family to watch someone we’ve loved and known for so long retreat gradually to a place that included the destruction of memory, thinking, language, and behavior patterns.
But something intriguing was also happening at the same time. As my father’s memory loss and confusion progressed, eventually he was only able to recall childhood songs! Yes…songs! I actually had fun singing along during visits with him even though he did not know me. Eventually, that pleasant luxury faded too, but during that brief stage, we sang children’s songs and nursery rhymes over and over!
It made me wonder what is it about music that remains wired into our brains so deeply that it can be recalled even when all other memories have disintegrated. I’ve learned that there is amazing research being conducted by neurologists at the Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center to study music memory and ways to use it to improve the lives of those with profound memory loss. Watch this dramatic video to see the effects of “neural nostalgia” on Henry, an elderly man with dementia. You will be amazed!
To return to the present, when our young children hear, sing, and dance to music, they are literally building neural connections by using a variety of areas in their brains. The childhood songs that they listen to repetitiously and that bring such great joy can literally be a quality of life enhancer once again decades later! What a concept!
A perfect music CD for this playful assignment has just been released by Choosy Kids called My Wiggle Makes Me Giggle. This CD has fast paced and upbeat songs that get everyone dancing and laughing together. Children can learn movements from listening to the words in the songs and just like Henry in the video above, may remember the motions for years to come!
I’d like to share with you a free download of the title track from My Wiggle Makes Me Giggle so that you can enjoy this music with your family. I hope that music of all kinds enables you to build lasting and fond memories.
What has been your personal or professional experience with this music phenomenon?
About the Author: Linda Carson, Ed. D, is the founder and CEO of Choosy Kids, LLC, and the Ware Distinguished Professor Emerita at West Virginia University. An award winning, nationally recognized expert, Dr. Carson has devoted her career to promoting healthy preferences for young children and the adults who make decisions on their behalf. Click here to learn more about Linda.