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WATCH: Mickey Hart Beats the Drum for Alzheimer’s Research

“The first connection to music as a healing power had to be with my grandmother, who had advanced Alzheimer’s and hadn’t spoken for 6 or 8 months. We were in a car, and I had a little drum, and I started playing it. She looked over and she said my name. I said, ‘Grandma, you spoke!’ She smiled at me and kept saying my name, and I realized that the drum had triggered that response in her.”

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart has been getting all Rhythms of the Cosmos for years. Now he’s working with medical researchers to come up with rhythms that might repair the diseased brains of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients.

Hart, 69, and neurologist Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the University of California San Francisco, last year became the first team to sonify and visualize brain activity in real-time in front of a live audience at AARP’s Life@50+ expo. But as this PBS My Generation video shows, the drummer’s interest in the healing potential of fundamental rhythms goes back a little further.

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