Category Archives: music therapy

Learning with music can change brain structure – Study

As a guy who has had musical accompaniment to virtually everything he ever did, I was pleased to learn how it can affect the brain positively. One of my happiest recent discoveries was the bluetooth speaker that connects to the water bottle on my bike.

Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

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People who practiced a basic movement task to music showed increased structural connectivity between the regions of the brain that process sound and control movement.

The findings focus on white matter pathways — the wiring that enables brain cells to communicate with each other.

The study could have positive implications for future research into rehabilitation for patients who have lost some degree of movement control.

Thirty right-handed volunteers were divided into two groups and charged with learning a new task involving sequences of finger movements with the non-dominant, left hand. One group learned the task with musical cues, the other group without music.

After four weeks of practice, both groups of volunteers performed equally well at learning the sequences, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found.

Using MRI scans, it was found that the music group showed a significant increase in structural connectivity in the white matter tract that links auditory and motor regions on the right side of the brain. The non-music group showed no change.

Researchers hope that future study with larger numbers of participants will examine whether music can help with special kinds of motor rehabilitation program, such as after a stroke.

The interdisciplinary project brought together researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Music in Human and Social Development, Clinical Research Imaging Centre, and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, and from Clinical Neuropsychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

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Music eases some cancer patients’ symptoms

I first encountered the idea of music therapy in 1977 when I was living in London. I heard a music therapist interviewed on the radio. Remember, this was 1977, before the internet. I was on a one year posting and had no TV or phone. As a music lover seemingly since birth, the idea of using music to treat people blew my mind. I actually looked up the man and visited him in his home outside of London. We had some great conversations and he pointed me to some books for further reading on the subject.

While I still listen to music religiously, I hadn’t thought much about music therapy  until I ran across this study from Drexel University.

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A systematic review published by the Cochrane Library found that there is significant evidence that music interventions help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, pain and fatigue in cancer patients, while also boosting their quality of life. Continue reading

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Musical Training Shapes Brain Anatomy and Affects Function

“As today’s findings show, intense musical training generates new processes within the brain, at different stages of life, and with a range of impacts on creativity, cognition, and learning.”

Cooking with Kathy Man

New findings show that extensive musical training affects the structure and function of different brain regions, how those regions communicate during the creation of music, and how the brain interprets and integrates sensory information. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the

These insights suggest potential new roles for musical training including fostering plasticity in the brain, an alternative tool in education, and treating a range of learning disabilities.

Today’s new findings show that:

  • Long-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight (see source).
  • The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact (see source).
  • Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance…

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Filed under brain, brain exercise, brain function, music, music listening, music therapy