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Publication Detail
Lifetime Musical Training and Cognitive Performance in a Memory Clinic Population: A Cross-Sectional Study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Fancourt D, Geschke K, Fellgiebel A, Wuttke-Linnemann A
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Musicae Scientiae
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
© The Author(s) 2020. Background: Music training has been found to be beneficial for young and healthy participants but the associations between musical training and the cognitive functioning of elderly participants have not been reported consistently. We examined whether lifetime musical training is associated with neuropsychological performance in a memory clinic population of older patients. Methods: A total of 478 patients (54.2% female, mean age 73.70 ± 6.22, mean Mini Mental State Examination score 25 ± 3) were included in the cross-sectional analyses. All patients were referred to the memory clinic due to cognitive impairments. During the course of diagnosis, all patients underwent neuropsychological tests using the CERAD neuropsychological assessment battery. Patients provided information on whether they ever learned to play an instrument for at least five years in their life. Results: Neuropsychological test results differed based on musical training (p =.042). Overall, there were no differences in any domains of cognitive functioning, other than that patients with musical training performed worse on word list memory (p =.008). However, this relationship varied based on the extent of cognitive impairments. Patients who were cognitively unimpaired (Mini Mental State Examination score 27–30) and had musical training showed better word list learning, whereas patients with cognitive impairments (Mini Mental State Examination score < 27) and musical training performed worse in word list learning (p =.042) and word list recall (p =.045). Discussion: Overall, there was little evidence of associations between specific neuropsychological test results and musical training. Only in cognitively unimpaired patients was there evidence that musical training had beneficial associations. In patients with cognitive impairment, there were suggestions of negative associations with verbal memory. Future research should longitudinally investigate the beneficial effects of musical training in people with and without cognitive impairments.
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