The study, published in the journal Age and Ageing
, evaluated a specific music program called Dalcroze Eurhythmics, which was developed by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in the early 20th century as a way to teach rhythm and musical structure through movement. This 1966 video gives you an idea of what a typical training session might look like:
For this study, researchers from Geneva University Hospitals challenged participants with multitasking skills that included walking to the rhythm of a piano while playing a percussion instrument or, as shown in the video, changing their movements according to the rhythm of the piano.
Participants included 134 men and women with an average age of 75 years, none of whom lived in a nursing home
or other facility. The seniors were randomly divided into two groups — one that attended an hour-long Eurhythmics session once a week for 25 weeks and another that did not. Participants were evaluated with a series of tests for mental function and mood at the beginning and again at the end of the study.
After six months, the seniors who took the music classes showed improved cognitive function, particularly on a test of their degree of sensitivity to interference — or their ability to multitask with noise or chatter in the background. They also showed decreased anxiety compared to the group that had not done the training.
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