Can musical jingles help dementia sufferers?

British composer devises way to remember daily routines

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Musical jingles could be used to help patients suffering from Alzheimer's Disease with their daily routine. Researchers at Plymouth University have been exploring the idea that the brain finds it easier to remember tunes and lyrics than dry lists of information – the same reason that advertisers use catchy tunes to stick in people's minds.

British composer Alexis Kirke has developed a computer programme that takes a text - say a to-do list or a medical prescription – and then generates a melody from it. The thought behind it is that learning and singing this melody can help dementia sufferers recall important information that they might forget without the musical prompt.

Alzheimer's patient Doreen Abbott has been involved in this study. She explained to Radio 4's Today programme that with her daily list she 'can sing it through and think, I've done that, I've done that.'

Kirke, who is a member of Plymouth's Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research, has also written a piece of music based on the project. Remember a Day is a work for mezzo-soprano and cello based on Abbott's Memory Jingles and daily list. It was premiered in Plymouth on 7 February 2014.

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