Imaging studies have
also given us a fairly fine-grained picture of the brain's responses
to music. These results make the most sense when placed in the
context of how the ear conveys sounds in general to the brain. Like
other sensory systems, the one for hearing is arranged
hierarchically, consisting of a string of neural processing stations
from the ear to the highest level, the auditory cortex. The
processing of sounds, such as musical tones, begins with the inner
ear (cochlea), which sorts complex sounds produced by, say, a
violin, into their constituent elementary frequencies. The cochlea
then transmits this information along separately tuned fibers of the
auditory nerve as trains of neural discharges. Eventually these
trains reach the auditory cortex in the temporal lobe. Different
cells in the auditory system of the brain respond best to certain
frequencies; neighboring cells have overlapping tuning curves so
that there are no gaps. Indeed, because neighboring cells are tuned
to similar frequencies, the auditory cortex forms a "frequency map"
across its surface.
The response to music
per se, though, is more complicated. Music consists of a sequence of
tones, and perception of it depends on grasping the relationships
between sounds. Many areas of the brain are involved in processing
the various components of music. Consider tone, which encompasses
both the frequencies and loudness of a sound. At one time,
investigators suspected that cells tuned to a specific frequency
always responded the same way when that frequency was detected.
But in the late 1980s
Thomas M. McKenna and I, working in my laboratory at the University
of California at Irvine, raised doubts about that notion when we
studied contour, which is the pattern of rising and falling pitches
that is the basis for all melodies. We constructed melodies
consisting of different contours using the same five tones and then
recorded the responses of single neurons in the auditory cortices of
cats. We found that cell responses (the number of discharges) varied
with the contour. Responses depended on the location of a given tone
within a melody; cells may fire more vigorously when that tone is
preceded by other tones rather than when it is the first. Moreover,
cells react differently to the same tone when it is part of an
ascending contour (low to high tones) than when it is part of a
descending or more complex one. These findings show that the pattern
of a melody matters: processing in the auditory system is not like
the simple relaying of sound in a telephone or stereo system.
Although most research
has focused on melody, rhythm (the relative lengths and spacing of
notes), harmony (the relation of two or more simultaneous tones) and
timbre (the characteristic difference in sound between two
instruments playing the same tone) are also of interest. Studies of
rhythm have concluded that one hemisphere is more involved, although
they disagree on which hemisphere. The problem is that different
tasks and even different rhythmic stimuli can demand different
processing capacities. For example, the left temporal lobe seems to
process briefer stimuli than the right temporal lobe and so would be
more involved when the listener is trying to discern rhythm while
hearing briefer musical sounds.
The situation is
clearer for harmony. Imaging studies of the cerebral cortex find
greater activation in the auditory regions of the right temporal
lobe when subjects are focusing on aspects of harmony. Timbre also
has been "assigned" a right temporal lobe preference. Patients whose
temporal lobe has been removed (such as to eliminate seizures) show
deficits in discriminating timbre if tissue from the right, but not
the left, hemisphere is excised. In addition, the right temporal
lobe becomes active in normal subjects when they discriminate
between different timbres.
Brain responses also
depend on the experiences and training of the listener. Even a
little training can quickly alter the brain's reactions. For
instance, until about 10 years ago, scientists believed that tuning
was "fixed" for each cell in the auditory cortex. Our studies on
contour, however, made us suspect that cell tuning might be altered
during learning so that certain cells become extra sensitive to
sounds that attract attention and are stored in memory.
the brain, so that more cells respond best to behaviorally important
To find out, Jon S.
Bakin, Jean-Marc Edeline and I conducted a series of experiments
during the 1990s in which we asked whether the basic organization of
the auditory cortex changes when a subject learns that a certain
tone is somehow important. Our group first presented guinea pigs
with many different tones and recorded the responses of various
cells in the auditory cortex to determine which tones produced the
greatest responses. Next, we taught the subjects that a specific,
nonpreferred tone was important by making it a signal for a mild
foot shock. The guinea pigs learned this association within a few
minutes. We then determined the cells' responses again, immediately
after the training and at various times up to two months later. The
neurons' tuning preferences had shifted from their original
frequencies to that of the signal tone. Thus, learning retunes the
brain so that more cells respond best to behaviorally important
sounds. This cellular adjustment process extends across the cortex,
"editing" the frequency map so that a greater area of the cortex
processes important tones. One can tell which frequencies are
important to an animal simply by determining the frequency
organization of its auditory cortex.
The retuning was
remarkably durable: it became stronger over time without additional
training and lasted for months. These findings initiated a growing
body of research indicating that one way the brain stores the
learned importance of a stimulus is by devoting more brain cells to
the processing of that stimulus. Although it is not possible to
record from single neurons in humans during learning, brain-imaging
studies can detect changes in the average magnitude of responses of
thousands of cells in various parts of the cortex. In 1998 Ray Dolan
and his colleagues at University College London trained human
subjects in a similar type of task by teaching them that a
particular tone was significant. The group found that learning
produces the same type of tuning shifts seen in animals. The
long-term effects of learning by retuning may help explain why we
can quickly recognize a familiar melody in a noisy room and also why
people suffering memory loss from neurodegenerative diseases such as
Alzheimer's can still recall music that they learned in the past.
Even when incoming
sound is absent, we all can "listen" by recalling a piece of music.
Think of any piece you know and "play" it in your head. Where in the
brain is this music playing? In 1999 Andrea R. Halpern of Bucknell
University and Robert J. Zatorre of the Montreal Neurological
Institute at McGill University conducted a study in which they
scanned the brains of nonmusicians who either listened to music or
imagined hearing the same piece of music. Many of the same areas in
the temporal lobes that were involved in listening to the melodies
were also activated when those melodies were merely imagined.
Studies of musicians have extended many of the findings noted above,
dramatically confirming the brain's ability to revise its wiring in
support of musical activities. Just as some training increases the
number of cells that respond to a sound when it becomes important,
prolonged learning produces more marked responses and physical
changes in the brain. Musicians, who usually practice many hours a
day for years, show such effects--their responses to music differ
from those of nonmusicians; they also exhibit hyperdevelopment of
certain areas in their brains.
Christo Pantev, then at
the University of Münster in Germany, led one such study in 1998. He
found that when musicians listen to a piano playing, about 25
percent more of their left-hemisphere auditory regions respond than
do so in nonmusicians. This effect is specific to musical tones and
does not occur with similar but nonmusical sounds. Moreover, the
authors found that this expansion of response area is greater the
younger the age at which lessons began. Studies of children suggest
that early musical experience may facilitate development. In 2004
Antoine Shahin, Larry E. Roberts and Laurel J. Trainor of McMaster
University in Ontario recorded brain responses to piano, violin and
pure tones in four- and five-year-old children. Youngsters who had
received greater exposure to music in their homes showed enhanced
brain auditory activity, comparable to that of unexposed kids about
three years older.
Musicians may display
greater responses to sounds, in part because their auditory cortex
is more extensive. Peter Schneider and his co-workers at the
University of Heidelberg in Germany reported in 2002 that the volume
of this cortex in musicians was 130 percent larger. The percentages
of volume increase were linked to levels of musical training,
suggesting that learning music proportionally increases the number
of neurons that process it.
In addition, musicians'
brains devote more area toward motor control of the fingers used to
play an instrument. In 1995 Thomas Elbert of the University of
Konstanz in Germany and his colleagues reported that the brain
regions that receive sensory inputs from the second to fifth (index
to pinkie) fingers of the left hand were significantly larger in
violinists; these are precisely the fingers used to make rapid and
complex movements in violin playing. In contrast, they observed no
enlargement of the areas of the cortex that handle inputs from the
right hand, which controls the bow and requires no special finger
movements. Nonmusicians do not exhibit these differences. Further,
Pantev, now at the Rotman Research Institute at the University of
Toronto, reported in 2001 that the brains of professional trumpet
players react in such an intensified manner only to the sound of a
trumpet--not, for example, to that of a violin.
Musicians also must
develop greater ability to use both hands, particularly for keyboard
playing. Thus, one might expect that this increased coordination
between the motor regions of the two hemispheres has an anatomical
substrate. That seems to be the case. The anterior corpus callosum,
which contains the band of fibers that interconnects the two motor
areas, is larger in musicians than in nonmusicians. Again, the
extent of increase is greater the earlier the music lessons began.
Other studies suggest that the actual size of the motor cortex, as
well as that of the cerebellum--a region at the back of the brain
involved in motor coordination--is greater in musicians.
Ode to Joy--or
beyond examining how the brain processes the auditory aspects of
music, investigators are exploring how it evokes strong emotional
reactions. Pioneering work in 1991 by John A. Sloboda of Keele
University in England revealed that more than 80 percent of sampled
adults reported physical responses to music, including thrills,
laughter or tears. In a 1995 study by Jaak Panksepp of Bowling Green
State University, 70 percent of several hundred young men and woman
polled said that they enjoyed music "because it elicits emotions and
feelings." Underscoring those surveys was the result of a 1997 study
by Carol L. Krumhansl of Cornell University. She and her co-workers
recorded heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and other
physiological measures during the presentation of various pieces
that were considered to express happiness, sadness, fear or tension.
Each type of music elicited a different but consistent pattern of
physiological change across subjects.
scientists knew little about the brain mechanisms involved. One
clue, though, comes from a woman known as I. R. (initials are used
to maintain privacy), who suffered bilateral damage to her temporal
lobes, including auditory cortical regions. Her intelligence and
general memory are normal, and she has no language difficulties. Yet
she can make no sense of nor recognize any music, whether it is a
previously known piece or a new piece that she has heard repeatedly.
She cannot distinguish between two melodies no matter how different
they are. Nevertheless, she has normal emotional reactions to
different types of music; her ability to identify an emotion with a
particular musical selection is completely normal! From this case we
learn that the temporal lobe is needed to comprehend melody but not
to produce an emotional reaction, which is both subcortical and
involves aspects of the frontal lobes.
An imaging experiment
in 1999 [not 2001], see[Blood, A.J., Zatorre, R.J., Bermudez, P.,
and Evans, A.C. (1999) Emotional responses to pleasant and
unpleasant music correlate with activity in paralimbic brain
regions. Nature Neuroscience, 2, 382-387] by Anne Blood and Zatorre of McGill sought to better specify
the brain regions involved in emotional reactions to music. This
study used mild emotional stimuli, those associated with people's
reactions to musical consonance versus dissonance. Consonant musical
intervals are generally those for which a simple ratio of
frequencies exists between two tones. An example is middle C (about
260 hertz, or Hz) and middle G (about 390 Hz). Their ratio is 2:3,
forming a pleasant-sounding "perfect fifth" interval when they are
played simultaneously. In contrast, middle C and C sharp (about 277
Hz) have a "complex" ratio of about 8:9 and are considered
unpleasant, having a "rough" sound.
What are the underlying
brain mechanisms of that experience? PET (positron emission
tomography) imaging conducted while subjects listened to consonant
or dissonant chords showed that different localized brain regions
were involved in the emotional reactions. Consonant chords activated
the orbitofrontal area (part of the reward system) of the right
hemisphere and also part of an area below the corpus callosum. In
contrast, dissonant chords activated the right parahippocampal gyrus.
Thus, at least two systems, each dealing with a different type of
emotion, are at work when the brain processes emotions related to
music. How the different patterns of activity in the auditory system
might be specifically linked to these differentially reactive
regions of the hemispheres remains to be discovered.
In the same year, Blood
and Zatorre added a further clue to how music evokes pleasure. When
they scanned the brains of musicians who had chills of euphoria when
listening to music, they found that music activated some of the same
reward systems that are stimulated by food, sex and addictive drugs.
Overall, findings to
date indicate that music has a biological basis and that the brain
has a functional organization for music. It seems fairly clear, even
at this early stage of inquiry, that many brain regions participate
in specific aspects of music processing, whether supporting
perception (such as apprehending a melody) or evoking emotional
reactions. Musicians appear to have additional specializations,
particularly hyperdevelopment of some brain structures. These
effects demonstrate that learning retunes the brain, increasing both
the responses of individual cells and the number of cells that react
strongly to sounds that become important to an individual. As
research on music and the brain continues, we can anticipate a
greater understanding not only about music and its reasons for
existence but also about how multifaceted it really is.
NORMAN M. WEINBERGER,
who received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Case Western
Reserve University, works in the department of neurobiology and
behavior at the University of California, Irvine. He is a founder of
U.C.I.'s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and of
MuSICA (Music and Science Information Computer Archive). A pioneer
in the field of learning and memory in the auditory system,
Weinberger is on the editorial board of Neurobiology of Learning
and Memory and Music Perception
|MORE TO EXPLORE:
|The Origins of Music.
Edited by Nils L. Wallin, Björn Merker and Steven Brown. MIT
|The Psychology of Music.
Second edition. Edited by Diana Deutsch. Academic Press, 1999.
|Music and Emotion: Theory and
Research. Edited by Patrik N. Juslin and John A. Sloboda.
Oxford University Press, 2001.
|The Cognitive Neuroscience of
Music. Edited by Isabelle Peretz and Robert J. Zatorre.
Oxford University Press, 2003.
Selected publications from the
last 20 years, primarily related to
Here are the 2001-2004
Zatorre, R.J. (2001) Do you see what I'm saying? Interactions between
auditory and visual cortices in cochlear implant users. Neuron, 31,
Bermudez, P. & Zatorre, R.J. (2001) Sexual dimorphism in the corpus
callosum: methodological considerations in MRI morphometry.
NeuroImage, 13, 1121-1130. Supplementary material
Klein, D., Zatorre, R.J., Milner, B. & Zhao, V. (2001) A Cross-Linguistic
PET Study of Tone Perception in Mandarin Chinese and English Speakers.
NeuroImage, 13, 646-653.
Peretz, I., Blood, A.J., Penhune, V. & Zatorre, R. (2001) Cortical
deafness to dissonance. Brain, 124, 928-940.
Zatorre, R.J. & Belin, P. (2001) Spectral and temporal processing in
human auditory cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 11, 946-953.
Blood, A.J. & Zatorre, R.J. (2001) Intensely pleasurable responses to
music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated with reward and
emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98,
11818-11823. Supplementary material
Zatorre, R.J. (2001) The Biological Foundations of Music. Ed. Robert J.
Zatorre & Isabelle Peretz. Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences,
Peretz, I., Ayotte, J., Zatorre, R.J., Mehler, J., Ahad, P., Penhune, V.B.
& Jutras, B. (2002) Congenital amusia: a disorder of fine-grained pitch
discrimination. Neuron, 33, 185-191.
Zatorre, R.J., Belin, P. & Penhune, V.B. (2002) Structure and function of
auditory cortex: music and speech. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6,
Belin, P., Zatorre, R.J. & Ahad, P. (2002) Human temporal-lobe response
to vocal sounds. Cognitive Brain Research, 13, 17-26.
Samson, S., Zatorre, R.J. & Ramsay, J.O. (2002) Deficits of musical
timbre perception after unilateral temporal-lobe lesion revealed with
multidimensional scaling. Brain, 125, 511-523.
Warrier, C.M. & Zatorre, R.J. (2002) Influence of tonal context and
timbral variation on perception of pitch. Perception and
Psychophysics, 64, 198-207.
Zatorre, R.J., Bouffard, M., Ahad, P. and Belin, P. (2002) Where is 'where' in the human auditory cortex?.
Nature Neuroscience, 5, 905-909.
Golestani, N., Paus, T., and Zatorre, R.J. (2002) Anatomical correlates of
learning novel speech sounds. Neuron, 35, 997-1010.
Zatorre, R.J. (2003) Absolute pitch: a model for understanding the influence
of genes and development on neural and cognitive function. Nature
Neuroscience, 6, 692-695. Supplementary material
Belin, P. & Zatorre, R.J. (2003) Adaptation to speaker’s voice in right
anterior temporal lobe. Neuroreport, 2105-2109.
Penhune, V.B., Cismaru, R., Dorsaint-Pierre, R., Petitto, L. & Zatorre,
R.J. (2003) The morphometry of auditory cortex in the congenitally deaf measured
using MRI. NeuroImage, 1215-1225.
Golestani, N. & Zatorre, R.J. (2004) Learning new sounds of speech:
reallocation of neural substrates. NeuroImage, 21, 494-506.
Zatorre, R.J., Bouffard, M. & Belin, P. (2004) Sensitivity to auditory
object features in human temporal neocortex, The Journal of Neuroscience,
24, 3637-3642.Note: this pdf incorporates a correction to figure 4 which was published on
26 May 2004 Supplementary material
Warrier, C.M. & Zatorre, R.J (2004) Right temporal cortex is critical for
utilization of melodic contextual cues in a pitch constancy task.
Halpern, A.R., Zatorre, R.J., Bouffard, M. & Johnson, J.A. (2004)
Behavioral and neural correlates of perceived and imagined timbre.
Neuropsychologia, 42, 1281-1292. Supplementary material
Gougoux, F., Lepore, F., Lassonde, M., Voss, P., Zatorre, R.J. & Belin,
P. (2004) Pitch discrimination in the early blind. Nature, 430, 309.
And something more from
Sing Whenever/Wherever You Can
Singing in the shower may be healing to your brain.
Song has long been known to have healing qualities. You can often tell
that a person is in a good mood if they are humming or singing. Song is
a true joy of life, no matter how you sing. I have seen how the
temperaments of my girls change when we sing together. They could be
having a terrible day, but when they start singing, often they forget
their cares and feel better.
Song is often associated with spiritual experience. When I was in
college, I attended Calvary Chapel, a large church in Southern
California. The music was magical. Listening to the choir was not just a
pleasant listening experience, it was a wondrous experience that
resonated through every cell in my body. The music uplifted both the
soul and mood of the congregation. The pastor said the music was
"Blessed by God Himself." Several of my friends were choir members. I
often saw them become transformed when they started to sing. Shy people
would become more extroverted, more alive. People in the congregation
became more involved in the service during congregational singing. The
church community glistened with the contagious joy of the music.
Preschool and kindergarten teachers have known for a long time that
children learn best through songs. They remember the material easier and
it is easier to keep them engaged in the activity. So why do we stop
singing in the second or third grade? Perhaps we should continue the
singing into later grades.
Interestingly, when I was in basic training in the military, we often
sang when we marched. I still have those songs in my head. When we sang
as a group, morale went up, and the tasks that we were doing didn't seem
quite as bad (like 20-mile road marches).
Sing whenever and wherever you can. You may have to sing softly if your
voice is like mine (my 16-year-old daughter is often embarrassed when I
sing in church). It will have a
healing effect on your temporal lobes, and probably your limbic system
Use Humming and Toning to Tune Up
In the Mozart Effect, Don Campbell, founder of the
Institute of Music, Health and Education, lists the benefits of using
your voice to enhance mood and memory. He says that all forms of
vocalization, including singing, chanting, yodeling, humming, reciting
poetry, or simply talk can be therapeutic. "Nothing rivals toning," he
concludes. The word 'toning' goes back to the fourteenth century and
means to make sounds with elongated vowels for extended periods of time.
Ah, ou (such as in soup), ee, ay, oh and om are examples of toning
sounds. Campbell writes that when people tone on a regular basis for 5
minutes a day, "I have witnessed thousands of people relax into their
voices, become more centered in their bodies, release fear and other
emotions, and free themselves from physical pain…I have seen many people
apply toning in practical ways, from relaxing before a dreaded test to
eliminating symptoms of tinnitus or migraine headaches…Toning has been
effective in relieving insomnia and other sleep disorders….Toning
balances brain waves, deepens the breath, reduces the heart rate and
imparts a general sense of well-being." Campbell reports that in his
experience certain sounds tend to have certain effects on the body and
Ahhh - immediately evokes a relaxation response,
Ee or Ay - is the most stimulating of vowel sounds, helps with
concentration, releasing pain and anger,
Oh or Om - considered the richest of sounds, can warm skin
temperature and relax muscle tension. Try toning for 5 minutes a day for
2 weeks to see if it will help you.
In a similar way, humming can also make a positive difference in mood
and memory. Mozart hummed as he composed. Children hum when they are
happy. Adults often hum tunes that go through their minds, lifting their
spirits and tuning their mind. Consciously focus on humming during the
day. As the sound activates your brain, you will feel more alive and
your brain will feel more tuned in to the moment.
Listen to Classical Music
In a similar way, listen to a lot of great music.
Music, from country to jazz, from rock to classical, is one of the true
joys of life. Music has many healing properties. Listening to music can
activate and stimulate the temporal lobes and bring peace or excitement
to your mind.
Music therapy has been a part of psychiatric treatments for centuries.
When certain music is played it has a calming effect on patients.
Fast-paced, upbeat music has a stimulating effect on depressed patients.
In highly publicized work, researchers at the University of California
at Irvine (UCI) demonstrated that listening to Mozart's Sonata for Two
Pianos (K.448) enhanced visual spatial learning skills. Frances H.
Rauscher, PhD and her colleagues conducted a study with 36
undergraduates from the department of psychology who scored 8 to 9
points higher on the spatial IQ test (part of the Stanford-Binet
Intelligence scale) after listening to 10 minutes of Mozart. Gordon
Shaw, one of the researchers, suggested Mozart's music may be able to
warm up the brain, "We suspect that complex music facilitates certain
complex neuronal patterns involved in high brain activities like math
and chess. By contrast, simple and repetitive music could have the
opposite effect." In a follow up study the researchers tested spatial
skill by projecting 16 abstract figures similar to folded pieces of
paper on an overhead screen for one minute each. The test looked at
ability of participants to tell how the items would look unfolded. Over
a 5-day period, one group listened to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos,
another to silence, and a third to mixed sounds, including music by
Philip Glass, an audiotaped story, and a dance piece. The researchers
reported that all three groups improved their scores from day one to day
two, but the group that listened to Mozart improved their pattern
recognition scores 62% compared to 14% for the silence group and 11% for
the mixed group. On subsequent days the Mozart group achieved yet higher
scores but the other groups did not show continued improvement. The
researchers proposed that Mozart's music strengthened the creative
right-brain processing center associated with spatial reasoning.
"Listening to music," they concluded, "acts as an exercise for
facilitating symmetry operations associated with higher brain function.
Don Campbell gives a nice summary of this work in The Mozart Effect,
along with many other examples of music enhancing learning and healing
the body. Campbell writes that in his experience Mozart's violin
concertos, especially numbers 3 and 4 produce even stronger positive
effects on learning.
In the context of the temporal lobes this research makes perfect sense.
The temporal lobes are involved in processing music and memory. Certain
types of music may activate the temporal lobes and help them learn,
process and remember information more efficiently. It is likely that
certain types of music open new pathways into the mind.
Certain music can also be very destructive. It is no coincidence that
the majority of teenagers who end up being sent to residential treatment
facilities or group homes listen to more heavy metal music than other
teens. Music that is filled with lyrics of hate and despair encourage
those same mind states in developing teens. What your children listen to
may hurt them. Teach them to love classical music when they are young.
Music is influential from a very early age. Dr. Thomas Verny in his book
The Secret Life of the Unborn Child cites scientific experiments showing
that fetuses preferred Mozart and Vivaldi to other composers in early as
well as later stages of pregnancy. He reported that fetal heart rates
steadied and kicking lessened, while other music, especially rock,
"drove most fetuses to distraction," and they "kicked violently" when it
was played to their mothers.
Classical music and most beautiful soothing, stimulating music can make
a positive difference in your brain.
Learn a Musical Instrument
In a follow up study by Rauscher and Shaw at UCI 34
preschoolers were given piano keyboard training. After 6 months, all the
children could play basic melodies from Mozart and Beethoven. They
exhibited significant increases in visual spatial skill (up to 36%
improvement compared to other preschoolers who received computer lessons
or other types of stimulation. Campbell reports on the following
studies: The College Entrance Examination Board in 1996 reported that
students with experience in musical performance scored 51 points higher
on the verbal part of the SAT and 39 points high on the math section
than the national average. In a study of approximately 7,500 students at
a university music and music major had the highest reading scores of any
students on campus. Learning a musical instrument, at any age can be
helpful to develop and activate temporal lobe neurons. As the temporal
lobes are activated in an effective way they are more likely to have
improved function overall.
Move In Rhythms
The temporal lobes are involved with processing and
producing rhythms. Many Americans never learn about the concept of
rhythm and how important it can be to healing and health. Chanting,
dancing and other forms of rhythmic movement can be healing.
Chanting is commonly used in eastern religions and orthodox western
religions as a way to focus and open one's mind. Chanting has a special
rhythm that produces an almost trance-like quality, bringing peace and
tranquility to the person. In these states, the mind is more open to new
experiences and learning.
Even for people with two left feet like myself, dancing and body
movement can be very therapeutic. When I worked on a psychiatric
hospital unit, the patients had dance therapy three to four times a
week. I often found that my patients were more open and more insightful
in psychotherapy after a dance therapy session. Dancing, like song and
music, has the ability to change a person's mood and give them
experiences they can treasure throughout the day, week, or even longer.
Look for opportunities to move in rhythms.
Mozart for Focus
In one controlled study, however, Mozart has been
found helpful for ADD children. Rosalie Rebollo Pratt and colleagues
studies 19 children, ages seven to seventeen, with ADD while playing
recordings of Mozart during three times a week brain wave biofeedback
sessions. 100 Masterpieces, Vol. 3: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the
music used. It included the selections of Piano Concerto No. 21 in C,
The Marriage of Figaro, Flute Concerto No. 2 in D, Don Giovanni and
other concertos and sonatas. The group that listened to Mozart had
reduced their theta brain wave activity (slow brain waves often
excessive in ADD) in exact rhythm to the underlying beat of the music,
and displayed better focus and mood control, diminished impulsivity and
improved social skill. Among the subjects that improved, 70 % maintained
that improvement six months after the end of the study without further
The music you listen to matters!
After she heard me lecture on music and the brain, my
18 year old daughter, Breanne, did a study with 12 of her friends for a
psychology class. She timed them playing the game Memory while they
listened to nothing, Mozart, rock, heavy metal, and rap music. She found
that they did best when they listened to Mozart (even better than to
listening to nothing at all), and worst when they listened to heavy
metal and rap music. [ from www.brainplace.com ]
For another point of view :
What is really going on in
our brains when we think?