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Music and Memory

By: Commonwealth Senior Living / 30 Apr 2019
Music and Memory

Do you ever hear a song that instantly brings you back to a specific memory or feeling?  At Commonwealth Senior Living, we know that music is a vital part of living a meaningful life, and it's especially important for people with Alzheimer's and dementia.  In fact, recent studies have shown there is a significant connection between music and memory in the brain. Psychology Today describes a recent study from the University of California, Davis in which researchers mapped the regions of the brain that were activated when people listened to familiar music.  The researchers found that the medial prefrontal cortex was highly activated by the music. This is also one of the last parts of the brain to become damaged by Alzheimer's disease, which may explain why people with Alzheimer's and dementia respond to music so strongly.  The researchers also found, unsurprisingly, that the songs linked to the strongest memories evoked the highest emotional response and the most activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. This study shows that people have a significant physical and emotional response to music.*

While we now have the science to back it up, at Commonwealth Senior Living, we have known for a long time that music can be transformative for a person with Alzheimer's or dementia.  That's why we love our Sweet Melodies program, which is one of our signature programs in which our Program Directors get to know what songs trigger happy memories or positive response from our Sweet Memories residents.  After the six-week long process, each resident has a personalized playlist with songs that create a strong, positive emotional response. This is a great resource for both families and our team to connect to each resident on a personal level. For those who have lost verbal skills, Sweet Melodies ignites a spark within the resident and resonates deeply within them.  For more information about our Sweet Melodies program, visit one of our communities or email us at

*Berglund, Christopher. "Why Do the Songs from Your Past Evoke Such Vivid Memories?" Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Dec. 2013.


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