Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Alive Inside and the healing power of music
From the Guardian: Henry Dryer, 92, is one of seven patients profiled in the documentary Alive Inside, a look at the power of music to help those with Alzheimer's.
A clip of Dryer, who suffers from dementia, appears in an extraordinarily moving rough cut of the documentary. In the clip, Dryer is largely mute and slumped over. He does not recognize his own daughter. But when a caregiver places a pair headphones on him, he undergoes an astonishing transformation. His face, formerly slack and inert, lights up. His eyes beam, and he sways in his chair, keening along to the music of his youth.
The effect lasts even after the headphones are removed. "I'm crazy about music," Dryer says. "I guess Cab Calloway was my number one band guy." Music "gives me the feeling of love", Dryer says.
Author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who has written extensively about the effects of music on the human brain, watches Dryer. "In some sense, Henry is restored to himself. He remembers who he is. He has reaquired his identity for a while through the power of music," Sacks says in the Alive Inside clip.