Alive Inside: Reprise

February 11, 2020

Perhaps the greatest power of documentary film is its ability to reveal to us experiences, feelings, and events that might have otherwise remained beyond our awareness and our imagination. Two years ago in this space ( Scheidt, 2013 ), I reviewed a brief version of “Alive Inside,” a video by Michael Rossato-Bennett. That remarkable film demonstrates the almost immediate reappearance of behavioral normalcy among dementia-struck nursing home residents who listened to individualized or personalized music. The film follows Dan Cohen, a social worker, who single-handedly delivered this experience to these persons by supplying nursing homes with iPod players. The musical intervention provided strong evidence that despite living with brains damaged by dementia, a significant part of who they are may survive intact. As noted by Oliver Sachs, well-known neurologist, the music “outfoxes” the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s dementia, moving through myriad pathways not yet damaged by the disease. 

Read full review in The Gerontologist.