Born with music inside me

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Born with music inside me

Posted on November 17, 2009

Legendary R&B icon Ray Charles claimed that he was “born with music inside me”. The famous neurologist Oliver Sacks actually believes in this and wrote a book on the topic: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. This book examines the extreme effects of music on the human brain and how lives can be utterly transformed by the simplest of harmonies.

Today, the Wall Street Journal released a very interesting article on music therapy. This article tells us how music has showed positive impact on cognitively impaired people. Some can often remember songs and dance to them even after forgetting names and faces. It seems that there is more and more evidence that it can be used as stimulation and help restore some cognitive functions.

Here are some interesting quotes:

“What I believe is happening is that by engaging very basic mechanisms of emotions and listening, music is stimulating dormant areas of the brain that haven’t been accessible due to degenerative disease,” says Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a nonprofit organization founded at Beth Abraham in 1995.

Dr. Janata says that activating memories with music cannot reverse or cure neurological diseases like dementia. But playing familiar music frequently can significantly improve a patient’s mood, alertness and quality of life.

Dr. Tomaino advises caregivers to listen as long as the patient seems interested. A patient may want to listen alone through headphones or through speakers so that a friend or family member can listen along. “Then they can reminisce together about what the music reminds them of or just hold hands to be more connected,” she says. She also suggests involving the whole family in interacting with the music. “The kids can drum along while Grandpa listens to Big Band sounds,” she says.

Music therapy is an expressive therapy as it uses the creative arts as a form of therapy. Studied for centuries, this field has always interested scientists as it has sometimes proven to be more effective than other therapies: In some cases, patients do not have speech capabilities and can be only reached using music.
We all know how music marks us profoundly – who doesn’t recall these commercial that you seem to be memorizing in just a few seconds!!
The interesting aspect of music is that it works great to activate memory in reminiscence activities but also for exercise as rhythm can be sensed even by deeply cognitively impaired people.