Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Music coaching for people with dementia

Additional information:


Type of assignment: BA


In– of external?: Internal


Maximum number of students: 3


Collecting own data?: Existing data


Type of research: Literature review


EC: 15 ECs     


Assignment description:

Behavioural and emotional symptoms of dementia, as part of the neuropsychiatric symptom family, are common problems for patients and caregivers. Patients in the early stage often lose interest in hobbies and activities and face emotional disturbances like irritability, anxiety and apathy. In moderate and severe dementia behavioural disorders like agitation, aggression, sleep disorders and (stereotyped) vocalizations or screaming are a common feature and are the main reason why caregivers place patients with dementia in a nursing home.

Multiple research studies support the notion that behavioural and emotional problems in dementia are related to unmet needs (like the need for social contact and activity stimulation that alleviates boredom) that can be addressed by nonpharmacologic interventions like music therapy. Music can be an acoustic trigger enhancing communication interactions and social contact, evoking vitality and postive emotions [1] and reducing speech [2] - and gait deficiencies [3]. Besides, it is known that musical memory stays preserved even in the more severe stages of dementia.


The UT has recently started a fundamental research project together with nursing home ‘’Zorgcentrum de Posten” in Enschede to explore how in-home sensors that monitor daily behaviours and emotional state of independently living people with dementia can be connected to a smart music box triggering automatically (in the right moment) (social) activity or induce relaxation by utilizing acoustic stimuli (melody and rhythm).


For our project we are searching for students that would like to enrich our body of fundamental knowledge about the use of music stimuli in dementia care.


The project consists of a literature study examining the following topics (focus can be chosen after interest):

How to influence communication, (social) behaviour, emotional state or gait deficiencies of people with dementia using music(cues)? At which times? Which effects have been found with what kind of music cues/ approaches? How can this be explained? What are the potential pitfalls? To what extend are there differences per stage of dementia?


Who are we looking for?

Students that are interested in nonpharmacologic interventions, neurodegenerative diseases and music therapy



Annemarie Braakman-Jansen

Christian Wrede




Cerejeira, J., Lagarto, L., & Mukaetova-Ladinska, E. (2012). Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Frontiers in neurology, 3, 73.


Cohen-Mansfield, J. (2013). Nonpharmacologic treatment of behavioral disorders in dementia. Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 15(6), 765-785.


[1] See case of Henry:

[2] Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT)

[3] Rhythmic Auditory Cueing (RAC)