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An intriguing region of the brain that's worth studying in Alzheimer's patients

This is Science Today. A region of our brain called the medial prefrontal cortex where memories of our past are supported and retrieved also serves as a hub that links music, memory and emotion. Those were the findings of a study conducted by Petr Janata, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis' Center for Mind and Brain.

Janata:            Now, interestingly, many people who've observed people with Alzheimer's disease, who really can't have a normal conversation anymore, light up — kind of come alive if they hear a piece of music from their past. And intriguingly, this region of the brain is one of the last parts of the brain to atrophy over the course of Alzheimer's disease.

Narrator:        Janata says this is more evidence that this region of the brain might somehow be responsible for integrating music and memories. The next step is to use neuroimaging studies in older adults to describe this phenomenon in better detail and then try these imaging experiments in those with mild cognitive impairment.

Janata:            So it's a precursor, a stage to dementia.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.