Music Therapy

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  • Published : March 6, 2013
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In an article Dementia Therapy and Music Concetta Tomanio, a certified music therapist reflects solid, objective insight toward music and how it has an effect on the brain. The way the brain and the body processes music still remains very mysterious. “Why it’s so positive is that we process music with almost every part of our brain,” asserts Tomanio. Music in its own affects everyone differently. Music that is connected with historical events or that has a personal significance to a person is key to engaging responses in those battling dementia. Tomanio, along with other researchers have discovered a strong connection between the human’s auditory cortex (part of the brain that processes sensory information in the form of sound) and its limbic system, where emotions are formed. Tomanio has found in numerous clinical studies of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia patients that familiar/likable music (not medication) has reduced depression, decreased agitation and even increased sociability and movement. Suzanne Hanser, department chair of music therapy at Berklee College of Music goes on to claim, “there are certain areas of the brain that are still relatively intact even as a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s takes effect.” Music triggers long term memory that allows people who have not spoken in years begin to sing or follow the rhythm of songs that they knew in their early teens and adulthood. “Music therapy is not going to change the course of the disease,” cautions Hanser, “but it will allow the person to temporarily engage and be much more capable of communication more clearly.” There are two types of music therapy: active and passive. Active therapy uses real instruments to engage the patient while passive therapy merely is listening to recorded music to help trigger the past. Music therapists then work directly with the patients themselves, the family members, and the caregivers to find the best music to reach a certain goal of therapy. Those goals...
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