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Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2018 Nov;61(6):414-418. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Apr 29.

Cognitive, emotional, and neural benefits of musical leisure activities in aging and neurological rehabilitation: A critical review.

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Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Siltavuorenpenger 1B, PO Box 9, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. Electronic address:


Music has the capacity to engage auditory, cognitive, motor, and emotional functions across cortical and subcortical brain regions and is relatively preserved in aging and dementia. Thus, music is a promising tool in the rehabilitation of aging-related neurological illnesses, such as stroke and Alzheimer disease. As the population ages and the incidence and prevalence of these illnesses rapidly increases, music-based interventions that are enjoyable and effective in the everyday care of the patients are needed. In addition to formal music therapy, musical leisure activities, such as music listening and singing, which patients can do on their own or with a caregiver, are a promising way to support psychological well-being during aging and in neurological rehabilitation. This review article provides an overview of current evidence on the cognitive, emotional, and neural effects of musical leisure activities both during normal aging and in the rehabilitation and care of stroke patients and people with dementia.


Aging; Cognition; Dementia; Emotion; Intervention; Music; Rehabilitation; Stroke

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