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A new study says singing can improve brain health in patients with mild to moderate dementia.

If you're looking to improve your brain health, sing about it. That's what a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease says. Researchers from University of Helsinki studied the effects of singing and listening to music on patients with mild to moderate dementia, finding that these activities could have significant impact on the treatment of Alzheimer's.

Over a period of 10 weeks, the scientists observed 89 patients separated into three groups: one that would be coached in singing, the second that would listen to familiar songs and the third that would continue receiving their regular care.

After the study period, the study found that the singing group showed improvement in three areas of brain health: memory, thinking and orientation. These improvements were especially prevalent in participants younger than 80 with mild dementia. The group that listened to familiar music also showed similar improvements except in patients who had more advanced dementia. In both groups, the musical activities helped reduce depression, particularly in patients with mild Alzheimer's.

While past research has already established singing as a potential rehabilitation technique for dementia patients, the new study tests those findings across different demographics, hoping to determine how widely these types of treatments could be used.

"Given the increasing global prevalence and burden of dementia and the limited resources in public health care for persons with dementia and their family caregivers, it is important to find alternative ways to maintain and stimulate cognitive, emotional, and social well-being in this population," said Teppo Sarkamo, the study's leader, in the journal's news release.

Sarkamo added that musical activities could easily be used in dementia care and rehabilitation. Singing, which is stimulating and engaging, is promising in maintaining memory function in the early stages of dementia. Because the study found no influence on results from prior musical experience, this kind of therapy could be used with different kinds of dementia patients.

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