Music as a Medicine for Brain

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  • Topic: Brain, Music, Neuroscience
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  • Published : December 9, 2010
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Music as a Medicine for Brain

HCM 930 – 2 Mental Health and Wellbeing
Instructor: Barbara Arnoldussen

FALL 2010
FALL 2010

Music is a universal phenomenon spanning all cultures, and is the most social of the arts. There is no one definition to describe this term. Its term changes with each individual’s perspective. Some find it as the rhythmic vibrations of sound, some describe it purely as an art form, some feel it creates emotions and interacts with the emotions we already feel, or, some associate it with the process of healing. Music therapy, a biofeedback or a coping technique instituted in the allied health profession, uses music to promote healing and enhance the quality of life in patients. It has been used for decades as a way to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety and even Depression [1]. There have also been attempts to translate EEG data into music [2]. Also, studies show that rhythm of music tends stimulates brain waves based on the tempo, with a slow tempo promoting a calm and meditative state. HISTORY OF MUSIC IN HEALTHCARE

The therapeutic value of music has been recognized since ancient times. Archaeological evidence showing flutes carved from bones, suggests music preceded language as a tool for communication [3], [2]. Greek physicians used flute, lyres and zitters to heal their patients and used vibrations produced by these instruments to aid in digestion, induce sleep and ward off mental disturbances [4]. Even the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who is considered the founder of music therapy and geometry prescribed music to restore harmony of the body and soul [3]. Early Egyptians also, used musical incantations for the healing process. Native Americans and Africans used singing and chanting as a part of their healing ritual [5]. Robert Brown (1773-1858), a Botanist, described the Brownian movement – Protoplasmic movements within cells are random, rhythmic and produce music [4]. With the advent of western medicine, art of medicine was replaced by science of medicine, thereby separating music from healing. However, end of 19th century, studies on the healing power of medicine was again looked into. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), a nurse, recognized the power of music in hospital wards to promote healing for soldiers injured in the Crimean war [3]. With the advent of phonograph, recorded music was introduced in hospital settings. Music interventions were slowly being appreciated in the healthcare setting. Furthermore, a group of surgeons conducted studied to show that music produced a calming effect on patients who were generally tense and nervous, thereby reducing patient anxiety and pain. Studies reported effects of music on physiological responses, such as, cardiac output, pulse rate, respiratory rate and Blood Pressure. Diogel, a physician from Paris in late 1700’s measured blood pressure and pulse rate of his patients while live musicians were brought in to play. His studies showed that music lowers Blood Pressure, increases Cardiac Output, decreases pulse rate and overall assists the parasympathetic system [4]. MUSIC AND BRAIN

Virtually every human loves to hear music, or at least responds with some kind of emotion when music is heard. Music can bring back a memory so clear that you can virtually touch it. Music can make us cry at the movies or bring us to our feet at sports events. Music can make us experience happiness as well as bring tears to our eyes. Research in neuroscience is trying to find answers to these connections between music and human brain. Knowledge of the specialized functions of the brain was deduced from understanding the failure of the normal functions following a stroke or an accident. It is also believed that babies respond to music while still in the womb. An interesting fact is that at the age of 4 months, dissonant notes at the end of a...
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