Neuroscience and Music

Though evidence may be limited, music has been found to be effective for stress reduction and relaxation and has been shown to offer many health benefits, explains a Consultant Neurologist

Music is to the soul what words are to the mind." Neurology is an art and if we master it skillfully, the subject becomes wonderful. Neurology combines Science and Art together. Every Neurologist is an artiste and every artiste is a Neurologist, as we deal with the mind of an individual, the rhythm in music instructs the brain.

Music Therapy (MT) is used in a wide spectrum of neurological disorders like Autism, Stroke, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's disease, Traumatic Brain Injury.

Though evidence may be limited on some methods, music has been found to be effective for stress reduction and relaxation and has been shown to offer many health benefits. Vibroacoustic sound therapy improves pain management and more. When we hear a rhythm or song, it activates the auditory system which further activates motor system at a subconscious level.

In stroke, which is the commonest neurological emergency, it has been found that MT improve three areas of functioning with survivor's motor speech and cognition. MT can induce changes in brain plasticity and cause activation of auditory-motor circuits that improve motor skills after stroke. It has a striking effect on Alzheimer's disease also. There exists a branch of MT that deals specifically with speech disorder called Melodic Intonation Therapy.

So there is functional recovery with improvements in socialisation, motivation mood and depression. MT has enabled some autistic children to relate to others and to have improved learning skills. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on the minds and bodies, especially slow, classical music.

This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.

Swami Vivekananda said, "Music has such tremendous power over the human mind; it brings it to concentration in a moment."

(Dr Ansu Sen Consultant Neurologist derived his inspirations in Neurology from his Father Professor Dr Debabrata Sen, Ex Director of Bangur Institute of Neuroscience and is trained in Rabindrasangeet under legendary singer Suchitra Mitra.)

(Dr Ansu Sen is MD, DM, Consultant Neurologist)

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