Researchers have found that the simplest music test indicates the risk of age-related cognitive decline. And this pathology often precedes the development of senile dementia.
Scientists from Tel Aviv University recruited 50 patients from the inpatient rehabilitation department of one of the geriatric medical centers with an average age of 77 years, as well as another 22 healthy people in the control group. Everyone went through a mini-mental state test to determine cognitive status – the gold standard for evaluating intelligence functions. It is usually conducted by a trained specialist and includes many tasks that evaluate intellectual abilities.
Then the participants were played short melodies and asked to press a button when this melody sounded. Over time, the task became more complicated, and it was necessary to press the buttons only when using one tool. During the test, participants wore an electronic strip on their forehead to assess the electrical activity of the brain or conduct an EEG.
Using machine learning, the researchers found patterns in the EEG recordings that completely coincided with clinically confirmed indicators of cognitive status. The participants’ reaction time and EEG recordings significantly correlated with these indicators. This means that the music test is sensitive to even minor changes in intellectual abilities, and it can be used to detect a decrease in intelligence even before it can be measured using other methods used.