Singing May Help Improve Cognition in Dementia

HealthDay News — An active singing program helps improve cognition and life satisfaction among people with dementia in an assisted living facility, according to a letter to the editor published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Linda E. Maguire, from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the impact of active singing on measures of cognition and life satisfaction at an assisted living facility. Forty-five participants received three vocal music sessions per week (independent residents: 18 singers, nine listeners; dementia: nine singers, nine listeners).

The researchers found that independent residents had significantly higher scores than those with dementia on the mini-mental state examination (MMSE; P < 0.001). Among participants with dementia, there was a significant interaction between pre-and post-study MMSE scores of singers and listeners (P = 0.04). 

Initial scores were not significantly different, but at the end of the study, singers had significantly higher MMSE scores than listeners (P = 0.008). Similarly, initially, there was no significant difference in clock-drawing ability between listeners and singers, but after treatment, singers scored significantly higher (P = 0.009). Compared with listeners, singers (independent living and dementia groups) had significantly higher Satisfaction with Life Scale scores (P < 0.001).

“These data show that an active singing program, using an innovative approach, led to significant improvement in cognitive ability in individuals with dementia,” the authors write.


  1. Maguire LE et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015; doi:10.1111/jgs.13366.