Elderly people singing in a choir

Project: Choir Singing and Healthy Aging

We propose to conduct an intervention study to evaluate the efficacy of choral singing on cognitive functioning and psychological well-being and the underlying neural mediating mechanisms in the elderly.

Project information

Title
Choir Singing and Healthy Aging: Efficacy and Underlying Neural Mechanisms Project manager
László Harmat
Other project members
Örjan de Manzano, Kristoffer Månsson, Karolinska Institutet; Håkan Fischer, Maria Sandgren, Stockholm University
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University, Karolinska Insitutet, Stockholm University
Financier
The Kamprad Family Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Research & Charity
Timetable
1 Sept 2021–31 Aug 2024
Subject
Psychology (Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)

More about the project

How to maintain good cognitive health in the later stage of life is an important and challenging question. Cognitive function declines with advancing age and the prevalence and incidence of dementia rises dramatically in later life.

Previous research projects (SAGE, FINGER) found that comprehensive lifestyle changes including physical activity and cognitive training have positive effects on successful aging. Cultural activities and musical activities in particular are interesting in this context, since they may mediate many of these effects in a format that is affordable, accessible, and enjoyable to essentially all people. However, there is still very limited research on how musical activities might exert positive influences on cognition and health in the elderly.

Therefore, a comprehensive set of measures will be used to characterize the cognitive, emotional, and the neural effects of choir singing. We will use standardized neuropsychological testing in combination with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the underlying neural mechanisms of choral singing and they may mediate positive effects on cognition and well-being.

Our research question is: How does choir singing promote emotional well-being, social engagement, and cognitive reserve in community-dwelling elderly people? We propose to conduct an intervention study to evaluate the efficacy of choral singing on cognitive functioning and psychological well-being and the underlying neural mediating mechanisms in the elderly. The specific aims address the impact of weekly choir singing during an intervention period of 10 months.