I’ve got rhythm – Music and the Brain

Music not only makes us feel good, but it is a total brain workout. Music is a product of the human brain. However, the brain that engages in music is also changed by engaging in music. Brain scans have revealed that listening to, playing, and creating music activates both sides the of the brain. From the ear, to the brain stem, and the brain. Hearing music sends messages across the memory centers of the brain (hippocampus, lowest portions of frontal lobe), and tapping rhythm along to a beat activates the cerebellum.

Consistent data has proved that music can access control processes in the brain related to control of movement, attention, speech production, learning, and memory. In the late 1990s, researchers and clinicians in music therapy, neurology, and the brain sciences provided evidence for the creation of therapeutic techniques that are now known as Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT). These exercises, and techniques are based on data from scientific research, and are directed towards non-musical therapeutic goals, how music influences the non-musical brain and behaviors. Music engages many distributed neural networks in the brain shared with general “non-musical” cognitive, motor, and language function, this is the evidence which continues to the growth of Neurological Music Therapy.

Neurological Music Therapy can be interdisciplinary, working with Occupational, Physical, Speech, and Feeding therapies. Music therapists can meaningfully contribute to and enrich the effectiveness of treatment teams. Music can help guide movements, reinforce cause and effect, provide regulation during difficult tasks, assist with learning new behaviors, and much more!

Reach out to Arbor Therapy to learn about our Neurological Music Therapy offerings, and co-treatment opportunities!

Ione Murray, MT-BC, NMT

Thaut, M. H., & Hoemberg, V. (2016). Handbook of Neurologic Music therapy. Oxford University Press.

Jun, P. (2022, January 24). Music, rhythm, and the brain. Brain World. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://brainworldmagazine.com/music-rhythm-brain/

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A woman with children playing instruments