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April 18th, 2012
12:40 PM ET

Documentary 'Alive Inside' shows the healing power of music

A new YouTube video is making waves, but not the way you would expect.

This one features an elderly man in a nursing home who doesn't recognize his own daughter and can barely answers questions, until someone someone gives him an iPod with music. The best way to describe it: The man comes alive.

The video, which now has more than 5 million views, is a clip from a documentary called "Alive Inside" which aims to bring to life the power of music and its impact on patients with dementia.

This morning on "Starting Point", director Michael Rossato-Bennet and Music & Memory's Dan Cohen talk about how the film has touched people around the world.

"I'm completely surprised," Rossato-Bennett says. "We're trying to say there's this enormous population that doesn't have their own music, the music that they love. And we put it on his website and 300 people saw it for six months. And then some kid wrote "This is us in 70 years." And people just watched it and saw a human being come alive. And when any of us come alive, it touches us deeply and makes us really happy."

Cohen explains how music can become a tool to help the elderly connect with younger family members.

"With Alzheimer's disease, people may not be able to recognize their own loved ones, maybe not able to speak," he says. "But if they hear music from their youth, that part of the brain is not affected so much by Alzheimer's. So they do come alive so to speak, and they can speak and sing to the music to almost perfect rhythm. It's quite amazing."

Cohen adds that half the people in nursing homes have no visitors, so figuring out what kinds of music they enjoy can be difficult. But Cohen is working to involve communities around the country to get iPods donated and have students come into the nursing homes to work with the residents to shape their playlists.

For more information on the documentary "Alive Inside" please visit www.aliveinsidemovie.com.


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