Music Proven to be More Effective than Drugs When Fighting Alzheimer and Dementia

Modern medicine nowadays tries to ‘fix’ us with pills and drugs, even when the latter type of medication proves to be ineffective. A natural phenomenon that we tend to medicalize is aging, a process we all have to face sooner or later. Statistics show that around 1.5 million people are institutionalized in the United States alone, 80% of which have been separated because they are suffering from Alzheimer or other forms of dementia.

For these people, a normal day starts and ends with powerful psychotropic drugs, with the treatment not aimed at curing the disease, but at making the patients more malleable and manageable. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these drugs annually, providing limited relief and often comes with significant side effects. However, in this particular case, non-pharmaceutical interventions has proven to be more effective. Whether it is access to companion animals, dietary supplements, memory training or even art therapy, science has proven that the latter provide meaningful benefits without the cost or the dangers of drugs.

One of the most significant of all non-pharmaceutical approaches to Alzheimer and dementia patients has proven to be music. The concept is said to be very simple and involving a simple MP3 player, such as an iPod, and a special playlist for each patient. The benefits resulting from this approach are said to include better memory, improved mood, decreed pain, increased involvement in the world and enhanced well-being. 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Choice Award-winning documentary film by Michael Rossato-Bennett, Alive Inside (video below), is shown to provide a testament to the power of reconnecting dementia sufferers with their deepest sense of self.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaB5Egej0TQ[/youtube]

Music is said to be a side door into a part of the mind that is relatively undamaged by dementia. People are said to process music with almost every part of the brain and music with personal meaning can promote extremely strong responses. Clinical studies have demonstrated that it is possible for personalized music to have a greater effect than medication and that it can even trigger long-term memories. It is said that there is currently no drug on the market that can help a person reconnect with their vital essence the way music does.

However, the practices shown in the documentary are yet to be considered as real-life effective treatment for Alzheimer or dementia patients. Nonetheless, this does not stop family members from using the powerful tool of personalized music with their loved ones.

Thank you The Daily Beast for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of The Daily Beast

Computer Could Learn Common Sense In The Near Future

According to a an article from Fudzilla, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have built a software that can search the web on a non-stop basis and learn common sense.

A normal human that browses the internet daily can learn a handful of information. However the software, dubbed the Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL), was designed to search for images and do its best to understand these images on its own. The program runs on two clusters of computers that include 200 processing cores, way beyond the ability to process information for a normal individual. As NEIL grows a visual database it is expected to gather common sense on what is being called as “massive scale”.

The designers have already shown some unique findings that could relate to common sense, such as “Deer can be a kind of / look similar to Antelope,” and “Trading Floor can be / can have Crowded”. The results so far are not really spectacular, but it is sign of progress. Computers do not have the ability to comprehend, that’s why software is based on conditions and functions.

Abhinav Gupta, assistant research professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute said that images were the best way to learn visual properties. People learn this by themselves and, with NEIL, computers could gain that ability as well.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of ComputerBasicsEbook