The Power of Music: the only medium to recollect memories from an erased mind.

Henry usually sits in the corner, head faced down, silent without uttering a word to anyone. You see Henry suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that slowly erodes its victim’s brain cells causing it to atrophy resulting in difficulty to make decisions, loss of coordination, memory loss, amongst other afflictions.

This terrible disease plunges Henry into a vacuum world, where his only companion is, well — Nothingness. Then came an organisation called Music & Memory, that provides help with individuals with dementia and cognitive challenges to reconnect with the world through personalised music.

Henry courtesy of Michael Rossato-Bennett

Henry was given a personalised ipod playlist of his favourite artist; Cab Calloway, then a miracle occurred. A man who has lived in silence for years without saying a word to anyone came alive. He became communicative once again — A clip of Henry’s story can be viewed here, from the documentary: Alive again.

The story above illustrates the power of how music can elicit memories, even with individuals whose memories have been unfortunately erased by dementia or Alzheimer related disease. The main reason why Henry becomes active whilst listening to his favourite music is due to his ‘implicit memory’ being activated by songs he listened to in the past.

Implicit memory is the memory we store in our mind both unintentionally and unconsciously allowing us to retrieve information from the past with ease. It is also where large part of our memories are created. An example of an implicit memory is: Ability to ride a bicycle (even after several years of not riding one, you can still easily begin riding again with little or no effort).

If Henry who suffers from the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease can find joy in recollecting some of his memories through listening to music he enjoyed in the past, then imagine how an healthy human being will feel by reliving the memories that was created with friends and loved ones, either in a particular place (birthday party, christening etc) or just having fun via the internet.

Although we might not be consciously aware of it but the music we listened to, be it in passing or deliberate, are forever storing in our implicit memory. It becomes part of our future identity whether we like it or not. Its power can not be undervalued — That’s why at TrackBeat, we want you to create music memories with people that you love and care about, and also making it possible to relive these memories whenever you want.

The importance of music in our everyday lives should not be underestimated — Our chosen choice of music can have a profound effect on how we remember our past and how it can aid us in our future predicament, as Henry’s story illustrate.

So keep enjoying and listening away, we say. Keep listening away. :)

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