Music Recognition in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration and Alzheimer Disease

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Abstract

Objective

To compare music recognition in patients with frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia, Alzheimer disease, and controls and to evaluate the relationship between music recognition and brain volume.

Background

Recognition of familiar music depends on several levels of processing. There are few studies about how patients with dementia recognize familiar music.

Methods

Subjects were administered tasks that assess pitch and melody discrimination, detection of pitch errors in familiar melodies, and naming of familiar melodies.

Results

There were no group differences on pitch and melody discrimination tasks. However, patients with semantic dementia had considerable difficulty naming familiar melodies and also scored the lowest when asked to identify pitch errors in the same melodies. Naming familiar melodies, but not other music tasks, was strongly related to measures of semantic memory. Voxel-based morphometry analysis of brain magnetic resonance imaging showed that difficulty in naming songs was associated with the bilateral temporal lobes and inferior frontal gyrus, whereas difficulty in identifying pitch errors in familiar melodies correlated with primarily the right temporal lobe.

Conclusions

The results support a view that the anterior temporal lobes play a role in familiar melody recognition, and that musical functions are affected differentially across forms of dementia.

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