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Archive for August 29th, 2008

Tonight I received an interesting article that I thought I’d share, entitled, ” ‘Mozart effect’ or not, music is beneficial” by Mike Saelee of the UCLA Daily Bruin. 

Saelee writes about research being done at  UCLA Semel Institute’s Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to study brain activity while people listen to or create music.  The hope is that by applying the use of fMRI and music to study emotion processing in the brains of children with autism, a developmental disorder of the brain, researchers may learn more about the possible use of music as a tool to help autistic children with social engagement and communication, noted key areas of the disorder. 

“The study will examine how the brain processes emotion in children with autism by measuring blood flow while listening to pleasant and unpleasant music,” said Istvan Molnar-Szakacs, a neuroscientist at the UCLA Semel Institute’s Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity. 

The positive therapeutic effects of music are also being harnessed and used in hospitals and other types of health institutions, such as rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes.   Vanya Green, a music therapist at UCLA, is quoted as saying, “Music enables an emotional level to be reached that may not be done in other modalities.”   The type of music therapy used depends upon the assessment of the client’s specific needs  derived by the music therapist. 

The simple process of remembering and producing a familiar tune such as “Here comes the Bride” occurs because the centers of the brain that process music and sound evolved from processing sounds of danger and/or threat to human life.  Due to the importance of understanding and comprehending sounds for survival, sounds have a direct route to the limbic system, which is a set of brain structures involved in emotion processing and to areas important for processing reward.  This also explains why so many of us actively turn to music we enjoy, that gives us pleasure. 

Molnar-Szakacs of UCLA is quoted as saying, “These pathways are now used for processing all sounds, from a lion’s roar to a Beethoven symphony, allowing us to listen to music and feel incredibly moved.  There is music at the mall, music at the gym, music in the car, and music on our phone. We pretty much live with a permanent soundtrack.”

I don’t know about you, but I think my “permanent soundtrack” sometimes needs a good “shuffle” in it!  🙂

 

To read this article in its entirety, please visit the UCLA Daily Bruin here.

Thanks goes to Remy Moore, Media Projects Assistant at Simply Music.com, for providing this article to us.  Thanks, Remy!

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