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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2014, Article ID 836748, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/836748
Research Article

Playing a Musical Instrument as a Protective Factor against Dementia and Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Twin Study

1Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, 3715 McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191, USA
2Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, USA
3Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

Received 3 July 2014; Accepted 13 November 2014; Published 2 December 2014

Academic Editor: Francesco Panza

Copyright © 2014 M. Alison Balbag et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Increasing evidence supports that playing a musical instrument may benefit cognitive development and health at young ages. Whether playing an instrument provides protection against dementia has not been established. In a population-based cotwin control study, we examined the association between playing a musical instrument and whether or not the twins developed dementia or cognitive impairment. Participation in playing an instrument was taken from informant-based reports of twins’ leisure activities. Dementia diagnoses were based on a complete clinical workup using standard diagnostic criteria. Among 157 twin pairs discordant for dementia and cognitive impairment, 27 pairs were discordant for playing an instrument. Controlling for sex, education, and physical activity, playing a musical instrument was significantly associated with less likelihood of dementia and cognitive impairment (odds ratio [OR] = 0.36 [95% confidence interval 0.13–0.99]). These findings support further consideration of music as a modifiable protective factor against dementia and cognitive impairment.