18 October 2018
Listening to a story is known to be cognitively demanding, in part because the listener has to pay close attention to, and remember, plot and character detail in order to understand what’s going on.
Attention and memory are both diminished in people living with dementia. Might regularly reading aloud to such patients help, then, to train their attention and memory, and function as a treatment?
A new study of people with various kinds of dementia, published in Psychology and Neuroscience, suggests that it could. A total of 43 patients with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia or general cognitive decline, who were living in a nursing home in Perugia, Italy, took part.
All these patients had mild to moderate dementia, according to scores on the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale. At the start of the study, they were each assessed by a psychologist using a standard test of attention, language, visuospatial abilities and both immediate and delayed memory. They were then divided into two groups, matched for scores on this test.