top of page

Psychological and Mnemonic Benefits of Nostalgia for People with Dementia

Contact Information


Cheston, Richarda,

Alzheimer’s disease; autobiographical memory; dementia; immediate recall; psychological adaptation


Background: Studies with non-clinical populations show that nostalgia increases psychological resources, such as self-esteem and social connectedness. Objectives: Our objectives were to find out if the benefits of nostalgia in non-clinical populations generalize to people with dementia and if nostalgia facilitates recall of dementia-related information. Methods: All three experiments recruited participants with mild or moderate levels of dementia. Experiment 1 tested whether nostalgia (compared to control) enhances psychological resources among 27 participants. Experiment 2 used music to induce nostalgia (compared to control) in 29 participants. Experiment 3 compared recall for self-referent dementia statements among 50 participants randomized to either a nostalgia or control condition. Findings across experiments were synthesized with integrative data analysis. Results: Nostalgia (compared to control) significantly increased self-reported social connectedness, meaning in life, self-continuity, optimism, self-esteem, and positive (but not negative) affect (Experiments 1-3). Compared to controls, nostalgic participants also recalled significantly more self-referent dementia-related information (Experiment 3). Conclusion: This series of experiments extends social psychological research with non-clinical populations into dementia care, providing evidence that nostalgia significantly enhances psychological resources. The finding that nostalgia increased recall of self-referent statements about dementia suggests that this emotion lends participants the fortitude to face the threat posed by their illness. The finding has potentially important clinical implications both for the development of reminiscence therapy and for facilitating adjustment to a diagnosis of dementia.


Ismail, S., Christopher, G., Dodd, E., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Ingram, T. A., Jones, R. W., Noonan, K. A., Tingley, D., & Cheston, R. (2018). Psychological and Mnemonic Benefits of Nostalgia for People with Dementia. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 65(4), 1327–1344.





Conent Area

Mengzhu Li

EWB-Related Construct

(2) life satisfaction; (3) positive affect

Study Design

Species or Study Population

(5) RCT

Sex (%Female)


Age (Mean, SD)

81.30, 7.39

Younger Controls?


Longitudinal Data?


Sample Size



recall for self-referent dementia statements

Ethnicity (%white)


Inclusion Criteria

(1) a diagnosis made within the previous 18 months by a consultant psychiatrist or geriatrician
(2) mild or moderate levels of cognitive impairment (MoCA)
(3) the capacity to consent to be part of the research; and
(4) sufficient communication skills to be able to take part in the research.

Exclusion Criteria

(1) they had a significant history of pre-morbid psychiatric problems; or
(2) they had a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia
(3) if deficits in short-term memory were not the primary cause of disability.

EWB Measures

(3) Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS

Non-EWB Behavioral

(1) Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Evaluation (ACE III)
(2) Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI)
(3) Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)

Physiological Measures


Brain IMaging Modality

Brain IMaging Paradigm


Brain Region/Circuit


Biological Measures


Other Neural Measures

Data Availability?


Diagnostic Measures

bottom of page