Learning Sung Lyrics Aids Retention in Normal Ageing and Alzheimer's Disease

Aline Moussard
Emmanuel Bigand
Sylvie Belleville
Isabelle Peretz


Previous studies have suggested that presenting to-be-memorised lyrics in a singing mode, instead of a speaking mode, may facilitate learning and retention in normal adults. In this study, seven healthy older adults and eight participants with mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) learned and memorised lyrics that were either sung or spoken. We measured the percentage of words recalled from these lyrics immediately and after 10 minutes. Moreover, in AD participants, we tested the effect of successive learning episodes for one spoken and one sung excerpt, as well as long-term retention after a four week delay. Sung conditions did not influence lyrics recall in immediate recall but increased delayed recall for both groups. In AD, learning slopes for sung and spoken lyrics did not show a significant difference across successive learning episodes. However, sung lyrics showed a slight advantage over spoken ones after a four week delay. These results suggest that singing may increase the load of initial learning but improve long-term retention of newly acquired verbal information. We further propose some recommendations on how to maximise these effects and make them relevant for therapeutic applications.


Resource/Research Type:
Document Details:
Author: Aline Moussard, Emmanuel Bigand, Sylvie Belleville , Isabelle Peretz
Journal: Neuropsychological Rehabilitation
Volume: Volume 24
Issue: 6
Publisher Details:
Audio/Video Details:
Subjects: Creative aging
Medical Conditions: Alzheimer’s
Art Form / Modality: Music