Scientists at the National Institutes of Health are now conducting studies on the healing power of music, specifically with how it works in relation to the brain.
The Healing Power of Music Now Being Proven Through Studies
Music’s healing power is already well-documented and known for working in unusual ways. For example, people who have brain damage that keeps them from speaking can sometimes sing. Those who are walking-impaired may do better when this is done in time with a beat.
Now, researchers are hoping that by studying the exact effects that music has on the brain, they will be able to understand exactly how this all works.
In one study, the researchers received help from opera soprano Renee Fleming. While hooked up to a brain scanner, she spent two hours speaking the lyrics of a song. Then she started singing and then imagining herself singing. This was all done to provide a baseline understanding of how these activities affect the brain in different ways.
Another study avenue being pursued is an investigation on dance classes with Alzheimer’s patients. Wake Forest University has a new class where those experiencing the apathy and depression associated with the disorder can go to lessons in dance improvisation.
This is done with the idea to see if it ultimately affects the quality of life. From there, the sort of neural networks that would generally be correlated with such improvements are being analyzed.
Meanwhile, Julia Langley wants to do research at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. This allows musicians to move among the patients and try to take their minds off of their conditions.
There already is a lot of anecdotal evidence that this can positively sooth their mental distress. It also demonstrates that not only creating music but also hearing it can be beneficial to one’s health.
“If we can study the arts in the same way that science studies medication and other therapeutics, I think we will be doing so much good,” she said.
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