Language, Music and Dementia (2020-2021)

This project team examined the interactions and interrelations of neurological regions that are critical for linguistic and musical processing. Team members also investigated the similarities and differences in the audition and reading of musical and linguistic texts and explored the potential impact of musicianship and bilingualism or multilingualism on behavior in people with cognitive impairment.

Using a combination of neuroimaging and behavioral data, team members established the language and music mappings in professional musicians who are either monolingual or highly proficient in one or more languages and examine the effect of musical training and language ability on dementia and cognitive impairment. The team’s experimental design included data collection from human subjects through the use of fMRI and behavioral data, including interviews, recordings and language proficiency testing.

The data collected from professional musicians and people with dementia or cognitive impairment was analyzed to develop a better understanding of the neurological interface and mappings of first and proceeding languages, the interrelationship of music and language mappings in the healthy brain, improvements in patient care and wellness in aging populations by using personalized music and the creation of a database of narratives by musicians that include healthy subjects and patients. 

The team produced two publications and shared their work with the U.S. Department of Education.


Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

Team Outputs

Hannah Folks, Caroline Gamard, Hope Morales, Devika Naphade, Krishna Sinha, Hanna Stern, Lena Yannella. 2020. Best Practices in Collecting and Encoding Behavioral Data for Analysis in fMRI Studies of Multilingualism and Musicianship, Glossos 15.

Hannah Folks, Caroline Gamard, Hope Morales, Devika Naphade, Hanna Stern, Edna Andrews. 2021. Reimagining Multilingualism and Musicianship: Communities of Practice as an Explanatory Framework for Analyzing the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic (reviewed, to appear).

This Team in the News

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2023

See related teams, Language, Music and Dementia (2021-2022) and Language, Music and Dementia (2019-2020).


Image: Music-brain, by Wuhuiru55, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Drawing of person.

Team Leaders

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

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Arushi Bhatia, Computer Science (BS)
  • Hannah Folks, Linguistics (AB)
  • Caroline Gamard, Psychology (BS)
  • Hope Morales, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Devika Naphade, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Sebastian Sanchez, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Hanna Stern, Psychology (AB)
  • Katherine Wang, Neuroscience (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

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