Language, Music and Dementia (2019-2020)

This Bass Connections project explored the impact of musicianship and multilingualism on delaying the behavioral symptoms of dementia. It is the first scientific effort of its kind to address the interrelationship between languages, music and dementia. The project’s experimental design included data collection from human subjects through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral data, such as interviews, recordings and language proficiency testing.

Project CALM (Confusion Avoidance Led by Music) conducted a pre-operative music assessment for participants at the POSH clinic, delivered iPods to patients the day after surgery, and then provided participants with a survey at or post discharge. They found that of those who participated in the survey (38 of the 45 participants), nearly 65% reported a positive or very positive effect on mood and 65% reported at least some effect on pain. On the language side of the project, this study was the first to use language proficiency as a means of comparing neural activation in highly-proficient groups. It is also the only to use both Russian and Spanish speakers. Results from the study show bilateral activation for both listening and reading comprehension across two languages.


Fall 2019 – Summer 2020

Team Outputs

Linguistic and Musical Processing and the Brain (Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase 2020)

Language, Music and Dementia (presentation by Edna Andrews, Hannah Folks, Caroline Gamard, Yana Lowry, Hope Morales, Devika Naphade, Neema Sharda, Krishna Sinha, Hanna Stern and Lena Yannella)

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2019-2020 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

See related team, Language, Music and Dementia (2020-2021).


Image: Brains, by Thomas Hawk, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Brains, by Thomas Hawk.

Team Leaders

  • Edna Andrews, Arts & Sciences-Slavic and Eurasian Studies;Program in Linguistics
  • Neema Sharda, School of Medicine-Medicine:Geriatrics

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Hannah Folks, Linguistics (AB), Biology (AB2)
  • Caroline Gamard, Psychology (BS)
  • Hope Morales, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Devika Naphade, Neuroscience (BS), Linguistics (AB2)
  • Jennifer Ricano, Neuroscience (AB), Linguistics (AB2)
  • Hanna Stern, Psychology (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Lena Yannella, Philosophy (AB), Russian (AB2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Todd Harshbarger, School of Medicine-Brain Imaging and Analysis Center
  • Elizabeth Linnartz, Arts & Sciences-Music
  • Richard Mooney, School of Medicine-Neurobiology