September 30th, 2014 · how the brain works, music and the brain
August 26th, 2014 · how the brain works, music and the brain
Music, Attention, and LearningEveryone who has learned their ABCs knows that it is easier to memorize a list if it is set to music. Scientific research supports common experience that pairing music with rhythm and pitch enhances learning and recall. Music helps children and adolescents with attention problems in several ways. First, it can be used as a reward for desired behavior. For example, for paying attention to homework for 10 minutes, a child can be rewarded with the opportunity to listen to music for 5 minutes. Second, it can be used to help enhance attention to “boring” academic tasks such as memorization, using songs, rhythms, and dance or movement to enhance the interest of the lists to be memorized. Instrumental baroque music is great for improving attention and reasoning. For students, playing background music is not distracting. Third, musical cues can be used to help organize activities – one kind of music for one activity (studying), another for a different activity (eating), and a third kind for heading to bed. Fourth, studies show that calming music can promote pro-social behavior and decrease impulsive behavior.
Music and AnxietyMany people find familiar music comforting and calming. In fact, music is so effective in reducing anxiety, it is often used in dental, preoperative, and radiation therapy settings to help patients cope with their worries about procedures. Music helps decrease anxiety in the elderly, new mothers, and children too. Music’s ability to banish worries is illustrated in the Rogers and Hammerstein lyrics, “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect And whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect I’m afraid… And every single time, the happiness in the tune convinces me that I’m not afraid.” Any kind of relaxing, calming music can contribute to calmer moods. Calming music can be combined with cognitive therapy to lower anxiety even more effectively than conventional therapy alone. Some studies suggest that specially designed music, such as music that includes tones that intentionally induce binaural beats to put brain waves into relaxed delta or theta rhythms, can help improve symptoms in anxious patients even more than music without these tones; listening to this music without other distractions (not while driving, cooking, talking, or reading) promotes the best benefits.
Music and MoodsAn analysis of 5 studies on music for depression concluded that music therapy is not only acceptable for depressed patients, but it actually helps improve their moods. Music has proven useful in helping patients with serious medical illnesses such as cancer, burns, and multiple sclerosis who are also depressed. If it can help in these situations, it may be able to help you and your loved ones experience more positive moods.
Music and SleepMany people listen to soothing music to help them fall asleep. This practice is supported by studies in a variety of settings. Just don’t try listening to lively dance music or rousing marches before you aim to fall asleep. Conversely, if you’re trying to wake up in the morning, go for the fast-tempo music rather than lullabies.
Music and StressSince ancient times, it has been known that certain kinds of music can help soothe away stress. Calming background music can significantly decrease irritability and promote calm in elderly nursing home patients with dementia. Music, widely chosen, lowers stress hormone levels. On the other hand, every parent of a teenager knows that certain kinds of music, particularly at high volumes, can induce stress. Knowing that certain kinds of music can alleviate stress is one thing; being mindful in choosing what kind of music to listen to is another. Choose your musical intake as carefully as you choose your food and friends.
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July 22nd, 2014 · how the brain works, music and the brain
June 9th, 2014 · how the brain works, music and the brain
?"This suggests that the correlated brain patterns were the result of using areas thought to be involved in language processing. Therefore we can assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechanisms utilized for music perception and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language." But music can do so much more, notes Michael Huckabee, professor and director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Division of Physician Assistant Education. In an article about the benefits of music on human health, he writes: ?"Music does something beyond our understanding. We can call it an endorphin release or a distraction, but it goes much deeper than that. Somehow music just does us good. And the good it does was just proven to be better." He speaks of a finding from researchers in Taiwan, who recently reviewed over 360 published studies on music therapy and concluded the data from these studies suggest cancer patients who routinely listen to music exhibit significantly fewer symptoms of depression, pain, fatigue and anxiety.
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May 8th, 2014 · how the brain works, music and the brain
"Listening to music feels good, but can that translate into physiological benefit? Levitin and colleagues published a meta-analysis of 400 studies in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, suggesting the answer is yes.
In one study reviewed, researchers studied patients who were about to undergo surgery. Participants were randomly assigned to either listen to music or take anti-anxiety drugs. Scientists tracked patient's ratings of their own anxiety, as well as the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The results: The patients who listened to music had less anxiety and lower cortisol than people who took drugs. Levitin cautioned that this is only one study, and more research needs to be done to confirm the results, but it points toward a powerful medicinal use for music.
"The promise here is that music is arguably less expensive than drugs, and it's easier on the body and it doesn't have side effects," Levitin said.
Levitin and colleagues also highlighted evidence that music is associated with immunoglobin A, an antibody linked to immunity, as well as higher counts of cells that fight germs and bacteria."
So what's next in this exciting field of the neuroscience of music? Levitin reports "
The next frontier in the neuroscience of music is to look more carefully at which chemicals in the brain are involved in music listening and performing, Levitin said, and in which parts of the brain are they active.
Any given neurochemical can have different function depending on its area of the brain, he said. For instance, dopamine helps increase attention in the frontal lobes, but in the limbic system it is associated with pleasure.
By using music as a window into the function of a healthy brain, researchers may gain insights into a slew of neurological and psychiatric problems, he said.
"Knowing better how the brain is organized, how it functions, what chemical messengers are working and how they're working -- that will allow us to formulate treatments for people with brain injury, or to combat diseases or disorders or even psychiatric problems."
Do NOT overlook the power of music to improve your brain, your life, and your health!