NIH and Arts Entities are Exploring Potentials in Music Therapy

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is sponsoring an initiative called Sound Health to investigate how music may be applied to treat symptoms of disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and chronic pain. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Renée Fleming Foundation are collaborating. (Fleming is an opera star.) Those involved have developed a toolkit for music-based interventions for brain disorders of aging, and it is being pilot tested. NIH says a growing body of research finds that listening to or making music affects the brain in ways that may help promote health and manage disease symptoms by activating a variety of structures in the brain with effects that can have physical and psychological benefits. Music therapy may involve a variety of different activities, including music improvisation, music listening, song writing, music performance, and learning through music. Results thus far are said to be very preliminary involving limited numbers of subjects, but the NIH says the research so far suggests that music-based interventions may be helpful for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and pain associated with a variety of health conditions, as well as for some other symptoms associated with dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions. “Limited evidence suggests that music-based interventions may improve emotional well-being, behavioral challenges, and quality of life in people with these conditions,” the NIH states, “and such interventions probably reduce depressive symptoms and improve overall behavioral challenges.” See additional insights on this subject in our brief AgeWise Colorado article at https://agewisecolorado.org/blog/tips/could-music-improve-quality-of-life-for-those-with-dementia.

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