Music Brain Power!

News reports about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery have placed a spotlight on the impact that music can have on the brain.

When Giffords was shot in January, the bullet punctured the left hemisphere of her brain. This hemisphere is the control center for language and also controls movement on the right side of the body. As a result of her injuries, Giffords had to learn to walk and talk again. Her recovery, which has astounded doctors and family members, is due in part to music therapy.

Patients who experience aphasia due to stroke or traumatic brain injury can often sing even though they are unable to speak. Because of this, music therapy techniques like melodic intonation therapy (MIT) can often succeed where traditional speech therapy fails. With MIT, therapists have patients sing familiar songs to get the brain working and then substitute regular phrases in place of lyrics.

Music doesn’t just stimulate one area of the brain, it actually activates more areas than any other function. Thanks to neuroplasticity, the amazing ability our brain has to change, adapt and compensate for loss, music can help redirect neuronal pathways to take over for those that are damaged.

If you are feeling anxious or stressed out, try listening to music. Studies have shown that certain kinds of music can affect autonomic response.

Among its many benefits music can actually reduce:

* the stress response
* lower your blood pressure
* boost your immune system
* ease muscle tension.

One of the reasons for the relaxation benefit is that music can increase the production of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin.

Certain kinds of music like classical compositions can have a positive effect on the body’s stress response. When stress levels are lowered we experience mental clarity and a stronger level of concentration. This improves memory and our ability to learn. There was a lot of press surrounding the Mozart Effect some years ago. Although much research has refuted the claim that listening to Mozart improves intelligence, some studies have shown that the 60 beat-per-minute rhythm found in Baroque music and in Mozart can actually enhance mental clarity and learning capacity. If you’d like to try it for yourself, check out our new CDs Mozart on My Mind and Bach on My Brain.

Enjoy some Tunes!

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One Response to Music Brain Power!

  1. Laura Higgins says:

    When my boss was in the hospital, friends of his would stop by with their instruments and play for him. His medical status would improve so much that the nurses would ask them to play for others as well.

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