The Facts

"the teen years... the turning point for musical preferences..."
-Daniel Levitan, This Is Your Brain On Music

Music can:
•    Relieve stress
•    Reduce anxiety and depression
•    Reduce agitation

Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D., The Mayo Clinic

Research has shown that the music most likely to reach people suffering with Alzheimer’s and dementia is that music the person loved between the ages of approximately 12 and 25. Research suggests that listening to or singing music can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer's disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.

According to neuroscientist Daniel Levitan in his bestselling book This Is Your Brain On Music

Researchers point to the teen years as the turning point for musical preferences. It is around the age of ten or eleven that most children take on music as a real interest, even those children who didn’t express such an interest in music earlier. As adults, the music we tend to be nostalgic for, the music that feels like it is “our” music, corresponds to the music we heard during these years. One of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease (a disease characterized by changes in nerve cells and neurotransmitter levels, as well as destruction of synapses) in older adults is memory loss. As the disease progresses, memory loss becomes more profound. Yet many of these old-timers can still remember how to sing the songs they heard when they were fourteen. Why fourteen? Part of the reason we remember songs from our teenage years is because those years were times of self-discovery, and as a consequence, they were emotionally charged; in general, we tend to remember things that have an emotional component because our amygdala and neurotransmitters act in concert to “tag” the memories as something important. Part of the reason also has to do with neural maturation and pruning; it is around fourteen that the wiring of our musical brains is approaching adult like levels of completion. (p. 226)