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December 1997

Autopsy-Proven Alzheimer Disease in a Patient With Dementia Who Retained Musical Skill in Life

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Oklahoma City
Belmont, Mass

Arch Neurol. 1997;54(12):1448. doi:10.1001/archneur.1997.00550240008002

Beatty and colleagues1 described 5 patients with probable Alzheimer disease (AD)2 who retained abilities to perform various complex cognitive tasks despite their dementias. Patient T (the trombone player) died in a nursing home approximately 3.5 years after the testing reported in the study. He required assistance in all activities of daily living and could no longer assemble his trombone by himself. However, if his trombone was assembled, placed into his hands, and raised to his lips, he could play notes and occasionally brief tunes.

After he died of cardiac arrest, his brain was removed and fixed in neutral-buffered formalin. The weight of patient T's fixed brain was 1125 g (normal range, 1300-1500 g). The results of the gross examination revealed only slight gyral atrophy. The results of the microscopic examination of cerebral sections revealed moderate to severe neuronal loss3 in the frontal and temporal poles, the entorhinal

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