Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Music Therapy in the WSJ

This article in the Wall Street Journal is the best summary of the current state of music therapy I can remember coming across. Here are a few quotes:

>>>   Dr. Tomaino says she frequently sees dementia patients make gains in cognitive function after music therapy. In one unpublished study she led a few years ago, with funding from the New York State Department of Health, 45 patients with mid- to late-stage dementia had one hour of personalized music therapy, three times a week, for 10 months, and improved their scores on a cognitive-function test by 50% on average. One patient in the study recognized his wife for the first time in months. . . 

. . . decades of studies have demonstrated that music can help premature infants gain weight, autistic children communicate, stroke patients regain speech and mobility, dental, surgical and orthopedic patients control chronic pain and psychiatric patients manage anxiety and depression . . .

. . . There's no single center for music in the mind—the brain appears to be wired throughout for music, since it engages a wide variety of functions, including listening, language and movement. But Petr Janata, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Davis's Center for Mind and Brain, recently located an area of the brain—the medial prefrontal cortex, just behind the forehead—that seems to serve as a hub for music, memory and emotions. . . . <<<

I am increasingly confident that in just a decade or two or three, music therapy will be much better understood, much more widely used, and simply accepted as a valued resource for healing the mind and body, and for helping people to stay healthy in the first place. The effects of music have been talked about since at least the time of Plato, but we've finally got the research tools to go beyond the intuitive and to have concrete data. 

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