The person still comes first: The continuing musical self in dementia

Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (3):73-93 (2006)

Abstract

It is well known anecdotally that, for many people in dementia, the appreciation of music outlasts other faculties. Could the residual musicality constitute a 'musical self', an enduring fragment of the person that the sufferer used to be? The question, as far we know, has not been raised before. Towards formulating the hypothesis, this article examines some of the available research and theorizing concerning the self and the neurology of music and dementia. A unified neurocognitive 'musical self' system seems plausible, though at present the evidence is sketchy. Social-relational aspects of both selfhood and musical experience are also considered, and a case history is presented so as to highlight their importance for understanding the complex relationship between music, dementia, and selfhood.

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