Research Shows the Health Benefits of Music

There are many mindfulness practices to stimulate inner awareness, increase health, and elevate our mood. Now we can add to that list practices such as listening to Mozart with your full being while sipping tea, singing a pop-song out loud while you drive across town, or losing your body to ecstatic dancing. Scientific research now shows us the ways that music has a physiological effect on our bodies and can improve concentration, relieve stress, act as an antidepressant and more.

Music’s beneficial effects on mental health have been known for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers from Plato to Confucius and the kings of Israel sang the praises of music and used it to help soothe stress. Military bands use music to build confidence and courage. Sporting events provide music to rouse enthusiasm. Schoolchildren use music to memorize their ABCs. Shopping malls play music to entice consumers and keep them in the store. Dentists play music to help calm nervous patients.

Take a moment and listen to Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues and you will be transported to another time. Sing along with her and you may ooze with the feelings as if they are your own. Crank up Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and you will be filled with emotions you may have never known existed. This capacity to feel is core to having compassion, yet music also has a profound effect on cognitive processes and learning also.

Musical entrainment 

Musical entrainment creates connection both internally and externally which can be seen when watching a whole crowd dance to a live band, or the people around you sobbing at an opera. Science explains this as an aspect of mirror neurons, which are a form of mimicking that can happen emotionally and physically. Maybe a song will give you chills, make you cry, or spontaneously start jamming on an air guitar, or dancing uncontrollably. In the study, The Neuroscience of Music, published by the Department of Psychology at McGill University, Montreal, researchers found preliminary scientific evidence supporting claims that music influences health through neurochemical changes in four domains: reward, motivation and pleasure; stress and arousal; immunity; and social affiliation.

The potential therapeutic effects of music listening have been largely attributed to its ability to reduce stress and modulate arousal levels. Listening to ‘relaxing music’ (generally considered to have slow tempo, low pitch, and no lyrics) has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in healthy subjects, patients undergoing invasive medical procedures (e.g., surgery, colonoscopy, dental procedures, pediatric patients undergoing medical procedures, and patients with coronary heart disease.

Music: Sound Medicine for ADHD

"Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music," says Oliver Sacks, M.D., professor of neurology at Columbia University and author of Musicophilia. He should know. Sacks has documented the power of music to arouse movement in paralyzed Parkinson's patients, to calm the tics of Tourette syndrome, and to vault the neural breaches of autism. His belief that music can heal the brain is gaining favor, thanks, in part, to Gabrielle Giffords.

 ADHD children can use music to train their brains for stronger focus and self-control in the classroom and at home. 

In January 2011, the Arizona congresswoman survived a gunshot wound to her left temple. Because language is controlled by the brain's left hemisphere, Giffords was unable to speak. As part of her arduous recovery, she worked with a music therapist, who trained her to engage the right side of her brain -- pairing words with melody and rhythm -- to bring back speech. 

"She was able to sing a word before she could speak a word, and the damaged areas of her brain were circumvented through music," says Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. "Now the neuroscience community is saying, 'Yes, the brain changes' and 'Yes, auditory stimulation
can help those changes happen.'"

How Playing Music affects The Developing Brain

Remember “Mozart Makes You Smarter”?

A 1993 study of college students showed them performing better on spatial reasoning tests after listening to a Mozart sonata. That led to claims that listening to Mozart temporarily increases IQs — and to a raft of products purporting to provide all sorts of benefits to the brain.

In 1998, Zell Miller, then the governor of Georgia, even proposed providing every newborn in his state with a CD of classical music.

But subsequent research has cast doubt on the claims.

Ani Patel, an associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and the author of “Music, Language, and the Brain,” says that while listening to music can be relaxing and contemplative, the idea that simply plugging in your iPod is going to make you more intelligent doesn’t quite hold up to scientific scrutiny.

“On the other hand,” Patel says, “there’s now a growing body of work that suggests that actually learning to play a musical instrument does have impacts on other abilities.” These include speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Patel says this is a relatively new field of scientific study.

“The whole field of music neuroscience really began to take off around 2000,” he says. “These studies where we take people, often children, and give them training in music and then measure how their cognition changes and how their brain changes both in terms of its processing [and] its structure, are very few and still just emerging.”

Patel says that music neuroscience, which draws on cognitive science, music education and neuroscience, can help answer basic questions about the workings of the human brain.
“How do we process sequences with complex hierarchical structure and make sense of them?” he asks. “How do we integrate sensation and action? How do we remember long and difficult sequences of information?

These are fundamental neuroscience questions, and music can help us answer some of these questions, because it’s in some ways simpler than language, but it’s still of sufficient complexity that it can address these very deep and important aspects of human brain function.”
In addition, Patel says music neuroscience research has important implications about the role of music in the lives of young children.

“If we know how and why music changes the brain in ways that affect other cognitive abilities,” he says, “this could have a real impact on the value we put on it as an activity in the schools, not to mention all the impact it has on emotional development, emotional maturity, social skills, stick-to-itiveness, things we typically don’t measure in school but which are hugely important in a child’s ultimate success.”

Kathleen Jara, co-director of the El Sistema program at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston, directs orchestra students during a rehearsal for their year-end recital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

At the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston, every student receives music instruction.
“It doesn’t matter whether they have had music instruction before or not,” says Diana Lam, the head of the school.

The school, which accepts new students by lottery, is bucking a national trend, as more and more cash-strapped school districts pare down or eliminate music programs.

Lam says music is part of her school’s core curriculum because it teaches students to strive for quality in all areas of their lives — and because it gets results.

“Music addresses some of the behaviors and skills that are necessary for academic success,” she says. “Since we started implementing El Sistema, the Venezuelan music program, as well as project-based learning, our test scores have increased dramatically.”

Musically Trained Kids With Better Executive Functioning Skills

But what does the latest scientific research tell us? The question, according to neuropsychologist Nadine Gaab, is not simply whether music instruction has beneficial effects on young brains.
“There’s a lot of evidence,” Gaab says, “that if you play a musical instrument, especially if you start early in life, that you have better reading skills, better math skills, et cetera. The question is, what is the underlying mechanism?”

At her lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, Gaab leads a team of researchers studying children’s brain development, recently identifying signs in the brain that might indicate dyslexia before kids learn to read, as we discussed in an earlier report from this series. Gaab and her colleagues are also looking for connections between musical training and language development.

“Initially we thought that it’s training the auditory system, which then helps you with language, reading and other academic skills,” she says.

Instead, in a study published last month, Gaab and her team delineated a connection — in both children and adults — between learning to play an instrument and improved executive functioning, like problem-solving, switching between tasks and focus.

“Could it be,” Gaab asks, “that musical training trains these executive functioning skills, which then helps with academic skills?”

MRI scans show brain activation during executive functioning testing. The top row, row A, is of musically trained children. The bottom row, row B, is of untrained children. There’s more activation in the musically trained children. (Courtesy Nadine Gaab)

To find out, researchers gave complex executive functioning tasks to both musically trained and untrained children while scanning their brains in MRI machines.

“For example,” Gaab says, “you would hear the noise of a horse, ‘neigh,’ and every time you hear the horse, whenever you see a triangle you have to press the left button and whenever you see a circle you have to press the right button. However, if you hear a frog, the rule switches.”

While noting the children’s ability to follow the rules, the scientists also watched for activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, known to be the seat of executive functioning.

“We were just looking at how much of the prefrontal cortex was activated while they were doing this ‘neigh-froggy’ task in the scanner,” Gaab says. “And we could show that musically trained children and professional adult musicians have better executive functioning skills compared to their peers who do not play a musical instrument. We could further show that children who are musically trained have more activation in these prefrontal areas compared to their peers.”

So does music-making enhance executive functioning?

Gaab hastens to add, “We don’t know what’s the egg and what’s the hen.” That is, whether musical proficiency makes for better executive functioning, or vice-versa.

But Gaab cites other studies which imply the former.

“It’s most likely the musical training that improves executive functioning skills,” she says. “You could just hypothesize that playing in an orchestral setting is particularly training the executive functioning skills because you have to play in a group; you have to listen to each other.”
And Gaab says that’s analogous to what happens in the brain of a musician.

“There are a lot of different brain systems involved in successfully playing even a small musical piece: your auditory system, your motor system, your emotional system, your executive function system; this playing together of these brain regions, almost like in a musical ensemble.”

Changing ‘Brain Plasticity’

But the question remains: Why would acquiring musical skills influence language and other higher brain functions? Neuropsychologist Patel has developed a theory he calls the OPERA hypothesis.
“The basic idea is that music is not an island in the brain cut off from other things, that there’s overlap, that’s the ‘O’ of OPERA, between the networks that process music and the networks that are involved in other day-to-day cognitive functions such as language, memory, attention and so forth,” he says. “The ‘P’ in OPERA is precision. Think about how sensitive we are to the tuning of an instrument, whether the pitch is in key or not, and it can be painful if it’s just slightly out of tune.”
That level of precision in processing music, Patel says, is much higher than the level of precision used in processing speech. This means, he says, that developing our brains’ musical networks may very well enhance our ability to process speech.

“And the last three components of OPERA, the ‘E-R-A,’ are emotion, repetition and attention,” he says. “These are factors that are known to promote what’s called brain plasticity, the changing of the brain’s structure as a function of experience.”

Patel explains that brain plasticity results from experiences which engage the brain through emotion, are repetitive, and which require full attention. Experiences such as playing music.
“So this idea,” he says, “that music sometimes places higher demands on the brain, on some of the same shared networks that we use for other abilities, allows the music to actually enhance those networks, and those abilities benefit.”

One striking example of this is the use of singing to restore speech. At the Music and Neuroimaging Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Gottfried Schlaug has pioneered singing as a therapeutic method of rehabilitating victims of stroke and other brain injuries, as well as people with severe autism.

And some of the most recent music neuroscience research is using music as a tool to better understand, and even predict, language-based learning disabilities.

But not all of the ideas behind this research, or even the methods, have come from scientists.

Using Music To Test Literacy Ability

Paulo Andrade teaches music at Colegio Criativa, a private school in Marilia, Brazil. He and his wife Olga, who’s also a teacher there, became interested in the relationship between musical and language skills among their elementary school students.

“We both work with the same children,” Andrade says, “and we started to exchange information about how the children were going. I could relate the musical development of children to their language ability and literacy.”

Andrade developed some collective classroom tasks to identify children at risk of learning disabilities. He asked his second-grade music class to listen to him play a series of chord sequences on the guitar, and identify each one.

“I asked [the] children to write visual symbols to represent the sound sequence they were hearing,” he explains, “a simple line to express chords in the high register and a circle to represent the chords played in the low register.”

Andrade made the students pause before writing down the identifying symbol. This would test their working memory, a kind of mental Post-it note crucial to language comprehension.

“What I presented to children was simple rhythm, for instance, [Andrade imitates the sound of his guitar] ti-tum-tum-chi. I counted the meter one, two, three, four, and then they start to write.”

What Andrade saw was that the kids who had severe difficulty with the task were also struggling with reading and writing. He knew he had good data, but he needed help from a scientist to analyze his data and methodology, and to write up the findings for publication.

“I read some papers by Nadine Gaab, and I searched for the page on the Internet and found Harvard and emailed her,” he says.

Recently, Andrade was in Boston on a Harvard fellowship, working on a follow-up to his research at the Gaab lab.

“We have found that this task, given to second-graders, can predict their literacy ability in the fifth grade,” Andrade says.

About her collaboration with the Brazilian music teacher, Gaab says, “I think that’s a really nice example of neuroeducation, bridging neuroscience and education.”

And she adds that Andrade’s musical test is particularly useful, in that it can be administered cheaply and easily to whole classrooms, regardless of the students’ native language.

“What we would love to do is replicate this study in the U.S.,” Gaab says, “but there’s no funding right now, so we’re working on that.”

Funding Concerns

Patel, the Tufts professor, says that getting funding for research in music neuroscience is often a challenge. It’s still a young field, he says, “and funding bodies tend to be very conservative, in terms of the kind of research they fund.”

The difficulty in sustaining funding may be similar to what music educators are facing.

“In terms of music in the schools,” Patel says, “it’s interesting that music is often the very first thing to be cut when budgets get tight, and as far as I know, that’s never based on any research or evidence about the impact of music on young children’s lives; it’s based on the intuition that this is sort of a frill.”

Gaab, Patel’s fellow neuropsychologist, agrees.

“Currently there’s a lot of talking about cutting music out of the curriculum of public and private schools, and I think it may be the wrong way to go,” Gaab says. “It may cut out some of the important aspects, such as to train executive functioning and have fun and emotional engagement at the same time.”

Both Gaab and Patel believe that music neuroscience is paying off, not only in showing the tremendous practical importance of music education, but also to help answer fundamental questions about the deepest workings of the human brain.

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Psychotherapy via Skype: a therapist’s experience

  1. Francesca L. Bell
  • Francesca L. Bell MRCPsych, CT3 in psychiatry, Camden Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Service, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK, email: franbell{at}

There are some who think that psychodynamic psychotherapy has not or will not move with the times. Perhaps because of this attitude and it not being seen as a cost-effective treatment, services have recently been decommissioned in the National Health Service (NHS).1

There is an ever-increasing number of people delivering psychotherapies over the internet. You only have to google ‘internet psychotherapy’ for a plethora of websites to appear providing you with access to online material and ‘face-to-face time’ with a therapist. There is, however, very little research into the delivery of psychodynamic psychotherapy via the internet. The vast majority of studies to date have investigated the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural therapy delivered by modern communication,2 predominantly self-guided or by telephone, but even this research is scant. An article by Fishkin et al3 discusses how for several years the China American Psychoanalytic Alliance (CAPA) has provided treatment, training and supervision via the internet using Skype, which they have found to be a practical and successful alternative to traditional methods, and which has been instrumental in improving access to training and therapy for Chinese mental health professionals. 

I was almost halfway through my year-long psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions with a patient when he told me that he was moving to a different city and so would no longer be able to attend. We were both disappointed; sessions had been going well and we had developed a good relationship. The patient suggested ‘meeting halfway’ but this was not practical and we concluded that his therapy with me would have to end. 

At my next supervision I delivered the news to my supervisor who, much to my surprise, suggested carrying on via Skype. When I mentioned this to the patient at our next session he was very happy to give it a go. 

Before the first internet session, I had tested it out with a friend to ensure I had the right lighting and environment at my end. The patient would be in his own home. I was quite intrigued by the fact that the patient, who had reliably been about 10 minutes late for the majority of our face-to-face sessions, was also 10 minutes late for his Skype session, and for many of the subsequent sessions too. It took a few minutes to get going but it was actually surprisingly easy to adjust.

The patient instantly appeared more relaxed and appeared to speak more openly and frankly with me, which continued throughout our Skype sessions. Was this a consequence of him being in the comfort of his own home, or perhaps not being in the same room was less intimidating? 

Something that was quite disconcerting was trying to make eye contact; the positioning of the cameras meant that for both of us, looking directly at the other’s face on the screen would mean that eye contact was not being made. I would sometimes try to compensate for this by looking directly into the camera but this felt false and I would not be able to tell whether he was returning my eye contact. However, by discussing these difficulties and the nuances of Skype, this did not appear to hinder our sessions. 

Silences and active listening suddenly became a new experience to negotiate. Any prolonged pauses would cause me to worry that the connection had been lost, and clearly this was also the patient’s concern as we would both on occasion say, ‘Are you still there?’ Similarly, I also found myself nodding in an exaggerated manner and making louder and more frequent listening noises to convey to the patient that I was still connected, both technically and mentally. 

A few sessions were blighted by technological problems: the sound would not sync with the picture or it would cut out altogether, the patient’s face would become a hazy blur and sometimes the connection would be lost several times, making for a rather disjointed session. There did seem to be a correlation between these technically difficult sessions and psychotherapeutically challenging sessions. From my notes of these particular sessions, I detected in the countertransference a sense of frustration, often before any technological difficulties ensued; however, this is likely to be only coincidence. 

For the final session we met in person again, which felt like a more appropriate way to end. I had not seen the patient in the flesh for over 6 months and so felt slightly apprehensive as to what it would be like. It actually felt ‘normal’, which I believe is a reflection of the effectiveness of the Skype sessions at maintaining and building on our already established therapist-patient relationship. This phenomenon is also mentioned by Lana Fishkin3: part-way through the analysis with her patient she was able to meet him in person in China. Both she and the patient commented that it did not feel different from their Skype sessions.

Overall, I think that being able to continue our sessions via Skype was incredibly useful for both the patient and me. It meant that those that we had before he moved were not a waste of our time and of course this had a positive financial implication for the psychotherapy service too.
In both my and the patient’s opinion the therapy had been successful. This was also reflected in the outcome measures (the CORE outcome measure tool): the patient showed a significant improvement in all domains of well-being, symptoms, functioning and risk, which was also sustained at a 6-month review. What impact the use of Skype had on the level of improvement is, however, uncertain: the effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy via Skype compared with being in the same room with the patient is an area for further investigation if this method is to be taken seriously.
I believe that there is a role for Skype or other distance communication technologies in delivering psychological therapies. I think my successful use of Skype was facilitated by having already developed a rapport and a good relationship with the patient over several sessions in person, although Fishkin et al3 did not report any negative sequelae of not having met their patients in person before starting therapy. The use of such modern forms of communication could, and does, have a role in improving access to psychotherapies for people living in remote areas and also for people who might be housebound. The role of online therapy delivery is expanding and is likely to continue to do so. For this expansion to be successful further investigation into its effectiveness is warranted.
read more at: pb.rcpsych

Music’s Amazing Effect on Long-Term Memory and Mental Abilities In General

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The fascinating effect of music on people’s cognitive abilities.

Professional musicians show superior long-term memory compared with non-musicians, a new study finds. Their brains are also capable of much faster neural responses in key areas of the brain related to decision-making, memory and attention.
The results were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, DC (Schaeffer et al., 2014).
Dr Heekyeong Park, who led the study, said:
“Musically trained people are known to process linguistic materials a split second faster than those without training, and previous research also has shown musicians have advantages in working memory.
What we wanted to know is whether there are differences between pictorial and verbal tasks and whether any advantages extend to long-term memory.
If proven, those advantages could represent an intervention option to explore for people with cognitive challenges.”
The 14 professional musicians in the study — all of whom had been playing for 15 years — were given a series of pictures and words to remember. Their results on a long-term memory test were compared with a group of 15 non-musicians.
While they did the test, their neural responses were measured using electroencephalography (EEG) technology.
The musicians had the advantage in long-term memory for the pictures, although not the verbal items.
Measures of the musicians’ brain function also showed that their neural response was faster than non-musicians. Areas in the mid-frontal region — those associated with decision-making — were between one-third and half-a-second faster. In the parietal lobes — which are associated with the senses, memory and attention — their neural response were sometimes almost one second faster than non-musicians.
It’s not yet known why these advantages in processing and memory occur, but Dr. Park speculates that learning to navigate musical scores may be partly responsible. This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that musical training has a wonderful positive effect on cognitive abilities.

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What is "Sound Healing"

Sound Healing Involves Listening

Sound healing can come from songs being sung or musical instruments being played. But, there are plenty of other healing sounds beyond music.

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite song is, who my favorite singer is, or what music genre I like, my pat answer is "silence." My response is silence because I am content to be without the background noise of a stereo, radio, or television. But, in truth, silence is not my favorite healing sound. I enjoy listening to train whistles, frog croaks, and owl hoots. This afternoon while writing this article I am listening to birds chirping, a dog barking, and cars driving past the street I live on. Oh, and my laptop just beeped to alert me that my battery is running low.

There are plenty of noises all around us, some of them are soothing, others not so much. We will sometimes hear things that annoy us like ambulance sirens, a child's tantrum, or people arguing. I guess you could say life without stereo is still an orchestra. But even annoying sounds can be healing if we are willing to take the time to listen to them more fully.

Listening is Key to Sound Healing

To truly benefit from sound healing the key is to become aware of sounds around you in order to connect with any feeling a particular sound provokes. Hearing is not the same as listening. We hear with our ears, we listen with an open heart.

UnPlug and Really Listen

Experiment with sound healing by trying to identify with any sounds nearby that are not musical. Turn off your television, take your iPod plugs out of your ears, turn the volume off on your computer. Now, become aware of the noises around you. Don't try to block any of the noises, take each noise in and process them one by one as you listen.

Benefits of Sound Healing

Certain sounds can bring back fond memories, this can be very healing. Other sounds are likely to drudge up old hurts. For example, the sound of a door slamming might remind you of a time when someone left you behind in the heat of an argument. This may open up an opportunity to confront and eventually resolve a painful abandonment issue. If you do, the next time you hear a door slam you'll feel calmer and more at peace.

Okay, you can turn your radio back on now if you like. But, remember to unplug yourself now and again for an "unplugged" sound healing session as a gift to your personal awareness. It will be good for you!

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What Is Therapeutic Music?

Therapeutic music is the use of the healing elements of music and sound to create an environment conducive to healing in healthcare settings. A large number of studies have confirmed the significant benefits that music provides premature babies, cancer patients, patients both before and after surgery and Alzheimer sufferers. Live music has been found to be more beneficial in music therapy than recorded music. An increasing number of health administrators are recognizing and investing in the benefits of therapeutic music.

The type of therapeutic music played will depend on the needs and the circumstances of the patient. Therapeutic musicians are trained to assess the behavior and condition of the patient and what type of communication the patient is able to receive. Well-documented studies have demonstrated the efficacy of therapeutic music in regulating heart rhythms and decreasing pain and anxiety levels.

When live music was played to preterm infants, they responded with a reduced heart rate and a deeper sleep. Cardiac surgery patients on the first postoperative day also responded with a decreased heart rate and a lower blood pressure. In another study, the playing of harp music at the bedside of dying patients was found to decrease the levels of agitation and wakefulness and assist them by easing the struggle to gain breath.

Healing for therapeutic musicians is not just a physical movement towards wholeness but also a mental, emotional and spiritual one. The music is performed live and may be played or sung depending on the immediate need of the patient. The therapy is said to particularly benefit those in the process of birthing or dying, which are life's transitions, but it also has a positive affect on other conditions including terminal or chronic illness, injury and disease. Therapeutic musicians usually work at the patient's bedside in hospices, hospitals, treatment centers, nursing homes and nursing facilities.

In order to qualify as a therapeutic musician, an approved curricula and independent study in an accredited training program must be completed. As well as being a good musician, candidates must demonstrate a sensitivity to a patient's needs and show they possess appropriate interpersonal skills. The governing body in the US, The National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians, aims to develop and advance the profession as well as certify the training programs. Only those who have received the appropriate high-quality training can call themselves therapeutic musicians and be qualified to play therapeutic music in healthcare settings.

more on: wiseGEEK

Music Therapy Helps Relieve the Symptoms of ADHD

Therapeutic listening is a type of music therapy intended to help children with sensory processing disorder, and a host of other disorders, including autism, learning disabilities, Down syndrome, and ADD/ADHD. The therapy generally involves listening to music through headphones, both at home and at school. Therapeutic listening sessions usually last from half and hour to 45 minutes, and are usually undertaken about twice daily. Evaluative sessions are normally required every three weeks or so, and the typical course of therapeutic listening lasts for about three months. This type of therapy is said to help improve coordination, communication, motor control, bodily functions, social skills, and organization.

Children with disorders such as autism, ADHD or sensory processing disorder often have problems perceiving and understanding both internal and external sensory information. As a result, children may have problems regulating bodily functions, communicating, moving through the environment, paying attention, and concentrating. They may lack good social skills. Expressing emotions, or perceiving and understanding the emotions of others, may also prove difficult for them. Therapeutic listening seeks to solve these problems by regularly exposing children to music, and encouraging them to perform various physical and mental tasks while doing so.

Experts believe that music therapy can have a range of benefits for children suffering from sensory processing and other types of disorders that affect brain function and concentration. Many children have been found to sleep better and exercise more control over bodily functions after music therapy of this nature. They will typically display tighter hand-eye coordination and finer motor skills. Balance and posture is said to improve, as does handwriting, speech, and emotional expressiveness. Children generally feel more relaxed after undergoing this type of music therapy, and are better able to exercise the social skills necessary to form relationships and bond with parents and caregivers.

Tasks considered central to therapeutic listening can include exercises, drawing, and building with blocks. Therapists typically choose specialized music intended to relax the child and stimulate whole brain function. It is believed that the music used during therapeutic listening helps children concentrate and learn more effectively. It may help support function of the inner ear structures that regulate balance and coordination. This music may help children better perceive sounds and emotions, and may help to stimulate parts of the brain responsible for oral communication and body language.

more at: wiseGEEK

One day I was talking to Dr Block and he told me about this music therapy that he calls "binaural beats" and The Life Program provides this type of music therapy. I never heard of any such thing so of course it sounded ridiculous. Healthy music?

Now, I do know that there is music that helps people relax. I have listened to meditation music before with nice sounding music. I also listened to music with running water or rain behind it.
I figured it would have to be the same concept. The main difference with this music therapy that he was telling me about, was that they used frequencies in their music. This is where the binural beats come in.
The binural beats refers to different frequencies played in each ear. These different frequencies release healthy nuerotransmitters. They help you relax, be calm, focus, have a good night sleep, and so on. By this happening, that is how this type of music therapy helps the ADHD Symptoms.

The electrical activity of the brain is measured and recorded by an EEG, Electroencephalograph. If you had one of these readings before, than you should know what I am talking about. It is a pretty common thing to hear about someone having an EEG done.
It measures the brain activity in waves. There are four primary brain waves that are identified and measured in wave frequencies called Hertz (HZ). No, not the car rental place either.

Four Brain Wave Patterns

The four brain wave patterns are: beta, alpha, theta and delta.


Frequency range: 14 - 100 Hz
Normal waking state, alertness, cognitive thinking, analysis, arousal, agitation/anxiety (higher levels), action, flight or flight response (higher levels)
Associated with release of cortisol, epinephrine, insulin, constriction of arteries, increased heart rate and respiration, decreased digestive action, and other dis-ease if unchecked.


Frequency range: 8 - 13.9 Hz
Relaxed waking state, relaxed focus, creative problem solving (non-analysis), super learning, pre-awake or pre-sleep drowsiness (lower levels), access to sub-conscious mind, spritual awareness.
Associated with release of serotonin and nor-epinephrine, activation of parasympathetic nervous system, body repair and rejuvenation, opening of arteries, slow deep breath and slow heart rate.


Frequency range: 4 - 7.9 Hz
Dream or REM sleep, deep creative flow/contact with "the muse" deep meditation, access to unconscious mind, profound spiritual awareness.
Associated with increased production of catecholamines, improved memory and increased capacity for learning, release of melatonin, greatest opportunity for integration of emotional change.


Frequency range: 0.1 - 3.9 Hz
Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness, if awake, awareness is void of physical.
Associated with slowest heart rate/respiration rate, significant increase in melatonin production, deep physical healing and rejuvenation, deep integration of positive mental and emotional change.
After talking with Dr Block, I contacted The Life Program and had their music therapy sent to me. On the front of their cd case it says "A new Meditation tool for better health". That must be where the term healthy music comes into play.
I listened (have to be with GOOD headphones, you need to be able to reach the wide range of frequencies) to each of the 4 CD's when I was ready to go to sleep. If you decide to do this, got to bed about 1/2 - 1 hour early if you are not use to listening to music while trying to go to sleep.
You may be up listening to the whole thing before you fall asleep. I really enjoyed listening to these music therapy CD's. It is a nice thing to listen to while getting to sleep.
On the "feel dreams" cd, the person speaking says, "you are now seeing colors". It happens to me every single time. I purposely try not to see colors but I do. Every single time. See if you can beat that challenge. So strange.
What you will hear is some nature noises, like rain, thunder, waves washing up on the shore, and these kinds of sounds. You will hear some music playing. You will also hear some other kinds of noises. These are different music therapy frequencies that are sounded in the headphones.
They are used to move you into the different patterns listed above.
I always find myself in a deep sleep when listening to these CD's before I sleep. The bad thing is that at some point I wake up and remove the headphones and go back to sleep. I have yet to listen to them during the day but I will at some point.
I am also going to test them on others that have ADHD, problems with relaxing, and depression. I want to get a wide range of results with these CDs.
If you have ADHD, it would be a good thing for you to own a set of these. It will help you to focus on something and to remain still for an hour. This is something we all need practice with.

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Music can improve concentration in some children with ADHD

From Rachmaninov to rock ’n’ roll, listening to music while studying may help some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For some, music has similar positive effects to medication.

The findings are part of a study on the effects of distractors on children with ADHD. A team of researchers, led by FIU Center for Children and Families Director William E. Pelham Jr., set out to examine how distractions – such as music and television – affect children with ADHD.
Professor William Pelham studied the effect of music on children with ADHD
Professor William Pelham and team recently found that music may not affect the concentration abilities of children with adhd as much as previously thought. Traditionally, Pelham said, parents and teachers believe distractors only have negative effects. Pelham set out to discover how music and videos actually impact the abilities of children with ADHD to focus in the classroom. Leading into the study, Pelham believed the music would have negative effects in many cases, and would have no effects at best. But even a world-renowned psychologist and leading authority on ADHD can be surprised by his own research findings.

“If a kid says he can watch TV and focus, it’s just not true. With television, we found out what we needed to know,” said Pelham, who also serves as chairman of FIU’s Department of Psychology. “But with music we actually discovered, in most cases, it didn’t really affect the children.”
While a few were distracted by music, the majority were not.

“And in some cases,” Pelham noted, “we found listening to music helped the kids with ADHD to complete their work. Actually for this subgroup, the effect of music on them was nearly as effective as medication.”

The research studied both medicated and non-medicated male students with ADHD, as well as a control group of male students who were not diagnosed with ADHD. The students were given the opportunity to weigh in on the music and video selections. The radio stations selected for the music portion of the study featured contemporary music including rock and rap.

“Rather than just assuming it’s better for a child with ADHD to do their homework in complete silence, it may help their concentration to let them listen to music,” Pelham said. “If parents want to know if listening to music will help their child’s performance in school, they should try it. In psychology, we have what we call single-subject-design studies. Basically, it’s trial and error. If a child’s performance improves after trying the music for a period of time, then that’s a pretty good indicator that the child falls into the subgroup of children that benefit from music.”

While the research indicates music may help some, Pelham said there is opportunity to explore why and to what degree.

“There’s actually a lot of different directions you could take this research,” Pelham said. “But I’m an applied person. I like to find out what I can do to help people.”

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Synchronized Brain Waves Enable Rapid Learning

Synchronized Brain Waves Enable Rapid Learning
TEHRAN (FNA)- The human mind can rapidly absorb and analyze new information as it flits from thought to thought. These quickly changing brain states may be encoded by synchronization of brain waves across different brain regions, according to a new study.
The researchers found that as monkeys learn to categorize different patterns of dots, two brain areas involved in learning -- the prefrontal cortex and the striatum -- synchronize their brain waves to form new communication circuits.

"We're seeing direct evidence for the interactions between these two systems during learning, which hasn't been seen before. Category-learning results in new functional circuits between these two areas, and these functional circuits are rhythm-based, which is key because that's a relatively new concept in systems neuroscience," says Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and senior author of the study, which appears in the June 12 issue of Neuron.

There are millions of neurons in the brain, each producing its own electrical signals. These combined signals generate oscillations known as brain waves, which can be measured by electroencephalography (EEG). The research team focused on EEG patterns from the prefrontal cortex -- the seat of the brain's executive control system -- and the striatum, which controls habit formation.

The phenomenon of brain-wave synchronization likely precedes the changes in synapses, or connections between neurons, believed to underlie learning and long-term memory formation, Miller says. That process, known as synaptic plasticity, is too time-consuming to account for the human mind's flexibility, he believes.

"If you can change your thoughts from moment to moment, you can't be doing it by constantly making new connections and breaking them apart in your brain. Plasticity doesn't happen on that kind of time scale," says Miller, who is a member of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. "There's got to be some way of dynamically establishing circuits to correspond to the thoughts we're having in this moment, and then if we change our minds a moment later, those circuits break apart somehow. We think synchronized brain waves may be the way the brain does it."

The paper's lead author is former Picower Institute postdoc Evan Antzoulatos, who is now at the University of California at Davis.

Humming together

Miller's lab has previously shown that during category-learning, neurons in the striatum become active early, followed by slower activation of neurons in the prefrontal cortex. "The striatum learns very simple things really quickly, and then its output trains the prefrontal cortex to gradually pick up on the bigger picture," Miller says. "The striatum learns the pieces of the puzzle, and then the prefrontal cortex puts the pieces of the puzzle together."

In the new study, the researchers wanted to investigate whether this activity pattern actually reflects communication between the prefrontal cortex and striatum, or if each region is working independently. To do this, they measured EEG signals as monkeys learned to assign patterns of dots into one of two categories.

At first, the animals were shown just two different examples, or "exemplars," from each category. After each round, the number of exemplars was doubled. In the early stages, the animals could simply memorize which exemplars belonged to each category. However, the number of exemplars eventually became too large for the animals to memorize all of them, and they began to learn the general traits that characterized each category.

By the end of the experiment, when the researchers were showing 256 novel exemplars, the monkeys were able to categorize all of them correctly.

As the monkeys shifted from rote memorization to learning the categories, the researchers saw a corresponding shift in EEG patterns. Brain waves known as "beta bands," produced independently by the prefrontal cortex and the striatum, began to synchronize with each other. This suggests that a communication circuit is forming between the two regions, Miller says.

"There is some unknown mechanism that allows these resonance patterns to form, and these circuits start humming together," he says. "That humming may then foster subsequent long-term plasticity changes in the brain, so real anatomical circuits can form. But the first thing that happens is they start humming together."

A little later, as an animal nailed down the two categories, two separate circuits formed between the striatum and prefrontal cortex, each corresponding to one of the categories.

"This is the first paper that provides data suggesting that coupling in the beta-band between prefrontal cortex and striatum may play a key role in category-formation. In addition to revealing a novel mechanism involved in category-learning, the results also contribute to better understanding of the significance of coupled beta-band oscillations in the brain," says Andreas Engel, a professor of physiology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany.

"Expanding your knowledge"

Previous studies have shown that during cognitively demanding tasks, there is increased synchrony between the frontal cortex and visual cortex, but Miller's lab is the first to show specific patterns of synchrony linked to specific thoughts.

Miller and Antzoulatos also showed that once the prefrontal cortex learns the categories and sends them to the striatum, they undergo further modification as new information comes in, allowing more expansive learning to take place. This iteration can occur over and over.

"That's how you get the open-ended nature of human thought. You keep expanding your knowledge," Miller says. "The prefrontal cortex learning the categories isn't the end of the game. The cortex is learning these new categories and then forming circuits that can send the categories down to the striatum as if it's just brand-new material for the brain to elaborate on."

In follow-up studies, the researchers are now looking at how the brain learns more abstract categories, and how activity in the striatum and prefrontal cortex might reflect that type of abstraction.