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Music Therapy

Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music therapy is one of the expressive therapies, consisting of a process in which a music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their physical and mental health. Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life by using both active and passive music experiences such as free improvisation, song, dance, listening, and discussion of music to achieve treatment goals. There is a wide qualitative and quantitative research literature base which incorporates clinical therapy, psychotherapy, biomusicology, musical acoustics, music theory, psychoacoustics, embodied music cognition, aesthetics of music, sensory integration, and comparative musicology.

Music Therapy May Alleviate Anxiety and Depression in Dementia


MAY 2, 2018


  • Researchers at the University of Utah Health found an area in the brain that can be stimulated by music to reduce anxiety and depression in dementia patients.

  • Published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study tested the impact of a personalized playlist on people with debilitating symptoms.

  • The research has discovered improvements in patient anxiety levels, depression and agitation and study authors noted how those patients “come alive.”

Patients and researchers selected songs that caregivers would play for three weeks. Highly positive observations were then recorded and a functional MRI scan was administered. The authors were hoping to see changes in the brain.

“When you put headphones on dementia patients and play familiar music, they come alive,” Jace King, the study’s first author said. “Music is like an anchor, grounding the patient back in reality.”

“This is objective evidence from brain imaging that shows personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease,” Norman Foster, the university’s Director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Care and the paper’s senior author, said.

“Language and visual memory pathways are damaged early as the disease progresses, but personalized music programs can activate the brain, especially for patients who are losing contact with their environment,” Foster added.

But the researchers noted that these outcomes are not conclusive. They only had 17 patients or participants. A more extensive study is needed but the university’s research seems promising.

“In our society, the diagnoses of dementia are snowballing and are taxing resources to the max. No one says playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it might make the symptoms more manageable, decrease the cost of care and improve a patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Anderson said.

According to Dr. Anderson, the study is not concluding that music will cure Alzheimer’s disease, but it may make the symptoms more manageable, lessen the cost of care, and improve a patient’s quality of life.

Source: New York Daily News

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