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Music for my Mind and Quantum Care re-ignite study using novel tech to measure effects of personalised music on people living with dementia

This July, dementia charity Music for my Mind (MFMM) and Quantum Care are delighted to restart a study that will use facial analysis technology to analyse physiological and emotional responses of people living with memory loss or dementia whilst listening to their  favourite music.

The hypothesis for the study is that personalised music listening will have an effect on reducing behavioural and psychological symptoms and improve relationships with carers and family.

The study, which previously had to be paused in 2020 due to Covid-19, sees MFMM partner with residents living in Quantum Care homes. The team will work over several months with 80 residents who might benefit from the use of personally meaningful music as part of their care.

With the support of families and carers a questionnaire about the resident’s background and musical preferences during their teenage years is completed, and a playlist is created automatically based on responses. This teen-age range, or ‘reminiscence bump’, was demonstrated during a 2022 MFMM study* to determine the age range during which popular music leaves the greatest impression on our memory.

Each song on the playlist is played to establish which ones are responded to most positively by assessing changes in facial expressions and observing overall responses such as singing, tapping feet, etc. Songs with the most positive responses will become the resident’s personalised playlist for use as part of their care.

To assess the impact over time, the team will visit regularly to record staff and family’s observations of how the music has been affecting the resident’s well-being and mood.

Debbie Gilard, Quantum Care’s Head of Corporate Services said of the partnership “We are really pleased to be working once again with Music for my Mind. We have long believed in the positive benefits of music for people living with dementia and are delighted to be part of this research project.”

The study will be conducted by Music for my Mind’s Research Assistant, Lucy Kerry, a recent graduate with an MSc in Dementia: Causes, Treatments and Research (Neuroscience), with support from Programme Manager, Dimana Georgieva and the charity’s Founder and Chair, Prof. Keith McAdam.

Of the study, Prof. McAdam said

“Our shared vision is that everyone living with memory loss or dementia will have a playlist of personally meaningful music, as part of their care plan.

Our study will lay the groundwork for larger-scale studies that improve the evidence base for music listening in dementia care.”

Participation will help improve the process for creation of personal playlists and their delivery in care home settings, making the well-being benefits of music accessible to more families across the UK. The data will help to influence policy makers, care providers and clinicians to deploy personalised music listening more widely within dementia care and social prescribing.

*A Focus on the Reminiscence Bump to Personalise Music Playlists for Dementia – Full article: A Focus on the Reminiscence Bump to Personalise Music Playlists for Dementia (tandfonline.com)

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