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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Music Therapy | This Creative Practice can Protect and Boost Brain Function - Research Links Music to Increased Immunity, Better Mood

There are so many beneficial qualities to music that it would be impossible to list them all here. From Dr. Emoto's studies on music and water, to Dan Winter's work on Fractality and Entrainment, there is seemingly no end to what can be gained from studying, listening to and playing music.

I have been an amateur Guitar player for years, and I always feel rejuvenated after playing. There are acoustic sounds which resonate with the body, especially those tuned to 432hz, and playing an acoustic instrument (non digital - such as a Synthesizer). But learning music, how it works intellectually was greatly rewarding. I began learning music theory, tonality and cadences about 10 years ago, and I found many of the concepts from my time in physics to be reflected there. I became familiar with Natural Law and the 7 Hermetic Principles that also resonated with what I learned from music.

As the article reveals below, our bodies, minds and souls seem to be all centered around harmonic motion; vibration. The mind especially works in this reflective form, and as a musician, I always play best when I can clearly hear and create a mental image of the piece while playing it. Kind of like having your favorite song stuck in your head, it courses through every fiber of your being at times.

Essentially because the Universe (Uni-Verse one song or rhyme) is musical in nature, as we learn to reflect more of it within ourselves accurately (creating Positive Knowledge) we become more healthy in both mind, body and soul. Playing an instrument is one of those Total experiences, meaning we use everything at our disposal to create the end result, and as such, we can use it as a total body, mind and soul exercise routine. Focus and Attention are the two forms of energy we can spend on things to either become better at life (developing skills and true knowledge), or if we spend them unwisely, develop bad habits and feel miserable; victims of life instead of co-creators with it.


Playing and Practicing Music helps us because it is an immediate feedback experience. We think of something to play (in the mind) which is expressed by our body and reflected totality by the quality of our playing, which is then feedback into the mind via the ears and the body. This feedback loop either becomes more coherent (what is in our mind matches what we play better) or dissonant (less reflective of the intention in the mind). This allows us to develop skills of self expression and sharing which is essential to health and evolution in all respects. Just one more reason to start enjoying the pleasures of music in one's own life.
- Justin

Source - Natural Society

There is no doubt that playing a musical instrument such as the piano or guitar can be a fun hobby and a great way to meet friends, but that isn’t the only benefit. New research shows that regular practice may also protect against age or disease-related mental decline. The findings strengthen previous evidence that links mental ability to playing music, and shows that spending even moderate amounts of time on this activity can have a benefit.


For this study, researchers compared groups of young adults based on their lifetime number of accumulated hours of practicing a musical instrument. They were tested on their abilities to complete various mental tasks, such as the widely used conflict test known as the Stroop test. In this test, participants are shown the names of colors written in mismatching colors, and are asked to name the color of each word.






The results show that those with more accumulated hours of practice had a faster response speed than non-musicians and no less accuracy. More well-practiced musicians had a “better engagement of cognitive control processes,” meaning they had faster reaction times and better ability to correct mistakes. They were also less likely to go back and adjust their responses when they made mistakes, as this is not practical when performing on stage or rehearsing in groups.

These mental processes are the first to be affected by aging and mental illnesses, which is one reason behind the importance of these findings.

Age-related cognitive decline is not the only neurological problem that can be remedied by music. One small literature review found that “rhythmic auditory stimulation” can improve gait parameters such as velocity, symmetry, cadence and stride length in stroke patients when compared to standard care.

Music therapy may also improve swallowing training in those recovering from strokes, as demonstrated in a small study. After the sixth session, improvement of pitch in the laryngeal category was significant, and after 12 sessions there was statistically significant improvement in other categories.

Additionally, a trial of 60 patients showed that listening to music every day significantly improved verbal memory and focused attention while reducing confusion. What’s more, autism is another condition that can be improved with music therapy, with children randomized to receive improvised music therapy showing greater improvement in non-verbal communication and joint attention behavior than play sessions.

Another method of using music therapy for autistic children is the addition of background music to teach emotional understanding, which was more effective than only relying on verbal instruction or teaching the children about various emotions by singing songs about them. Listening to music regularly, whether it be daily or even weekly, can reduce the symptoms of depression in adults too; this requires an accumulative effect of over 3 weeks in order to be significant.

It has been theorized that the mechanism behind music’s effects is the adjustment of steroid hormones such as cortisol, oestrogen, and testosterone, which facilitates regeneration and repair of cerebral nerves, as well as neurogenesis. This could therefore be a superior alternative to hormone replacement therapy in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as there are no side effects.




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There are numerous ways to de-stress the brain, and listening to music is just one of them. The next time you put on your headphones or crank up the stereo, you just might be helping your body to fight disease as well. Experts in the field of neuroscience have discovered that music boosts mood, which changes how our body reacts to stress, and even ignites some interesting chemical responses to help it fight foreign invaders like viruses and unwanted bacteria.

Listening to Music Leads to a Boosted Immune System & Reduced Stress

In fact, Dr. Ronny Enk, a researcher associated with the Max Planck Institute found that listening to music for just under an hour can help change the number of antibodies in our physiological system. Might it be that Mozart and Nirvana have an equal place in our list of tunes on heavy rotation? Based on this research, maybe.
“We think the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement. Stress reduction probably plays an important role, but the stress reducing effect seems to be different for various types of music,” Dr Ronny Enk said.
Antibodies are secreted by our white blood cells which then attach to what are called B-cells, a specific type of cell that has an uncanny ability to search out and find foreign invaders and to remember them even once they are eradicated form the body so that they have no chance of depleting the system a second time. Also called immunoglobulin, antibodies are needed to fight everything from the latest H1N1 virus being exported from China, or just fighting off the common cold. These immunoglobulins are found in breast milk, and are largely responsible for a baby’s boosted immunity (which is why breastfeeding is so important).
Furthermore, this particular research found that it doesn’t matter which kind of music you listen to as long as you, personally, find it pleasing or uplifting. Other studies prove that we tend to gravitate toward music which is slightly novel but which keeps in line with our cultural biases, so if you grew up on Rock and Roll, or Indian Raga, you’ll still build antibodies no matter what you listen to.
Dr Enk added:”We’d expect that different kinds of music might show different physiological and immunological effects. Not only the music itself is important but probably the personal appraisal of the listener will also be important. We did not use relaxing music, but rather exciting music that were joyful dance tunes from different centuries. Listening to music in hospitals might show benefits for patients and may for example lead to shorter recovery times, but we are still to test this ourselves.”
Lastly, music lowers cortisol, one of the main stress hormones that makes us feel angry, tired, and frustrated. Stress also dampens the immune system, so either way you look at it, listening to music is good for you – as if you didn’t already suspect that!


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Sources:

http://naturalsociety.com/playing-musical-instrument-can-protect-cognitive-function/

http://naturalsociety.com/research-links-music-increased-immunity-better-mood/

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