Music

The Musical Brain

When asked about his theory of relativity Einstein said: " It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception" Albert Einstein

MUSIC THERAPY AND THE BRAIN ... 

What music therapy offers is an improvement in communication for the patient/client and caregiver and possibilities for managing the disruption and agitation ensuing in the later stages of the disease.   Why music therapy works when the person has very little functioning on an every day level....

1. While several components of working memory may be affected, not all aspects of the central executive mechanism are necessarily influenced.

2. Tone perception remains intact but there is a progressive decline in working memory for auditory non-verbal information and verbal information

3. Music therapy may promote improved hearing.

4. Music therapy may be indicated because it offers an external sense of temporal coherence that is failing in the patient. As the disease progresses, the discourse of Alzheimer's patients becomes pre-grammatical in that it is vocabulary-driven and reliant on meaning-based features of discourse rather than grammatically based features.

5. Musical form and structure can give coherence ... as we know some songs stick in our memories.

6. While language deteriorates, musical abilities appear to be preserved. There are individuals who retain the ability to play previously learned compositions but are unable to identify the composer or the titles of the work.

7. There is often a well preserved procedural (or motor skill) memory for musical performance.

8. Research suggests that music processing which is preserved in ADRD patients may be occurring in different parts of the brain than familiar linguistic mechanisms. 

9. Music therapy relies less on verbal processing so they may offer a unique approach to accessing stored knowledge and memories that control certain behaviours.

10. It is the connections of the auditory nerve to key limbic structures in the brain that account for such emotionally charged responses to familiar music. The limbic area of the mid -brain has been indicated in long term memory storage and emotional processing. Because memories persist when they have some personal importance for the individual, and the processing of the familiar music seems to bypass higher cortical  structures, it is possible to reach the 'sense of self' that still may be preserved in persons with dementia through the use of meaningful songs.

Adapted from David Aldridge (2000) Music therapy in dementia care, Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley. 

MUSIC IS A NON-VERBAL FORM OF COMMUNICATION, WHICH ALLOWS THE BRAIN TO RE-WIRE WHEN A PERSON IS STRESSED.

VERBAL LANGUAGE CAN’T BE PROCESSED TO HELP REGULATE THE STRESS.
THE THERAPIST-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS FORMED, HAPPENING IN THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN THAT RELEASES THE CHEMICAL OXYTOCIN, KNOWN AS THE RELATIONSHIP CHEMICAL, TO MAKE BOTH THE CLIENT AND THE THERAPIST FEEL SAFE. MUSIC IS REALITY- ORIENTATED, SO PEOPLE WITH A PSYCHOSIS MOST LIKELY WILL NOT HALLUCINATE DURING A 30-40 MINUTE SESSION. IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE FOCUSED. IT’S PUTTING THEM AT THEIR BEST STATE, AND THEY’RE AT THEIR BEST STATE BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT STRESSED. YOU’RE NOT THINKING ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. IT’S ALMOST LIKE MEDITATION, EXCEPT WE’RE FOCUSED ON SINGING OR PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT.
MUSIC TAPS INTO LONG TERM MEMORY AND PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMER'S OR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T TALK WILL SING ALONG TO SONGS FROM THEIR TEENS OR THEIR TWENTIES EVEN THOUGH THEY CAN’T RECALL OR HAVE A CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW.