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Music, Mind and Wellbeing

March 23, 2014

There has been a lot of press about “Alive Inside”, a film that documents the power of individualized music in stimulating dementia patients.  So far the results of this effort have been moving, but largely anecdotal.  There are no studies documenting the reduced need for dementia medications that result from providing music therapy to an Alzheimer’s patient.

Now, at the University of Melbourne in Australia, faculty members have launched the world’s first initiative linking neuroscience with music and social wellbeing.  The university does this via a series of partnerships among its staff that encompass science, music, education, health and business.

The so-called “Music, Mind and Wellbeing” project includes collaborators from a number of fields:

  • Social issues involved in listening to music.
  • Neural processes involved in enjoying music
  • Music theory
  • Music technology

So far, a lot of their work has focused on the role of music in improving the learning capacity of school children.  Remarkably, elementary kids who are taught music excel in other studies compared to peers who do not receive music training.

There is no doubt that music stimulates the brain in some way.  In our home care agency in Chapel Hill, NC, we have seen its power with a number of elder clients clients:

  •  One gentleman began sleeping better through the night
  • A woman began playing the piano again
  • Another woman began tapping her feet and clapping her hands

It is exciting to hear that the processes between music and the brain are being formally studied so that we can take advantage of it its full benefits.

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