A music test to measure the mental ability of older adults has been created by a team of renowned academics.

Scientists from Tel Aviv University have found a simple way to measure the electrical activity in the brain through the use of musical tasks.

They use a digital device to perform an electroencephalography (EEG) on a person whilst they complete a mini musical test. Music is also used during the assessment to relax the brain at certain points.

The authors said: “Our method enables routine monitoring and early detection of cognitive decline in order to provide treatment and prevent rapid, severe deterioration.

“Prophylactic tests of this kind are commonly accepted for a variety of physiological problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or breast cancer; however, to date no method has yet been developed to enable routine, accessible monitoring of the brain for cognitive issues.”

Musical cognition specialist Neta Maimon believes that music can affect an individual’s mental wellbeing.

Maimon said: “Music that is positive and reasonably rhythmic will enhance concentration and performance of the task.

“Thus, for example, the famous ‘Mozart effect,’ showing improved performance on intelligence tests after listening to Mozart’s music, actually has nothing to do with Mozart’s music, but rather the fact that music creates a positive mood and stimulates us to a state that is optimal for performing intelligence and creativity tests.”

The academics said: “Our method enables the monitoring of cognitive capability and detection of cognitive decline already in the early stages.

“This method is of special importance today due to the increase in longevity and accelerated population growth, particularly among the elderly.”

They added: “Today, millions of people around the world already suffer or are liable to suffer soon from cognitive decline and its dire consequences, and their number will only increase in the coming decades.

“Our method could pave the way towards efficient cognitive monitoring of the general population, and thus detect cognitive decline in its early stages, when treatment and prevention of severe decline are possible. It is therefore expected to improve the quality of life of millions around the world.”

The study has been published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

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