An abstract from Neurocase:
The hallmark symptom of Alzheimer's Dementia is impaired memory, but memory for familiar music can be preserved. We explored whether a non-musician with severe Alzheimer's could learn a new song. A 91 year old woman with severe Alzheimer's was taught an unfamiliar song. We assessed her delayed song recall (24 hours and 2 weeks), music cognition, two word recall (presented within a familiar song lyric, a famous proverb, or as a word stem completion task), and lyrics and proverb completion. Her music cognition (pitch and rhythm perception, recognition of familiar music, completion of lyrics) was relatively preserved. She recalled 0/2 words presented in song lyrics or proverbs, but 2/2 word stems, suggesting intact implicit memory function. She could sing along to the newly learnt song on immediate and delayed recall (24 hours and 2 weeks later), and with intermittent prompting could sing it alone.
This is the first detailed study of preserved ability to learn a new song in a non-musician with severe Alzheimer's, and contributes to observations of relatively preserved musical abilities in people with dementia.(1)