The Potential of Rhythmic Sensory Stimulation Treatments for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease


  • Amy Clements-Cortes University of Toronto, Music and Health Research Collaboratory, Baycrest Centre
  • Lee Bartel Music and Health Research Collaboratory, University of Toronto
  • Heidi Ahonen Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Morris Freedman Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology Baycrest Health Sciences, University of Toronto, and Mt. Sinai Hospital, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences, Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic, Baycrest Health Sciences



Background: Rhythmic Sensory Stimulation (RSS) is a treatment being implemented for persons diagnosed with a variety of disorders such as fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This paper provides qualitative results of observations and interactions of AD study participants who received both RSS and visual stimulation sessions for six weeks. A case vignette is also provided.
Objective: The study proposed that RSS could stimulate the auditory and somatosensory system at 40Hz with the potential for improvements in cognition for persons with AD.
Method: 18 participants at three stages of AD participated: mild, moderate and severe. Participants received a total of 13 sessions in this AB cross-over design study.
Results: Qualitative findings from the study support RSS as a potential treatment for persons with AD to increased alertness, stimulate discussion, and increase interaction and awareness of surroundings.
Conclusion: Further research needs to explore the effect of the frequency of sessions provided, the duration of effects, and whether AD severity interacts with the RSS treatment. Further investigations could also study the effect of auditory 40Hz stimulation alone, as well as the inclusion of music listening during the RSS sessions. 



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