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Learning with music can change brain structure

Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study

Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

People who practiced a basic movement task to music showed increased structural connectivity between the regions of the brain that process sound and control movement.

The findings focus on white matter pathways — the wiring that enables brain cells to communicate with each other.

The study could have positive implications for future research into rehabilitation for patients who have lost some degree of movement control.

Thirty right-handed volunteers were divided into two groups and charged with learning a new task involving sequences of finger movements with the non-dominant, left hand. One group learned the task with musical cues, the other group without music.

After four weeks of practice, both groups of volunteers performed equally well at learning the sequences, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found.

Using MRI scans, it was found that the music group showed a significant increase in structural connectivity in the white matter tract that links auditory and motor regions on the right side of the brain. The non-music group showed no change.

Researchers hope that future study with larger numbers of participants will examine whether music can help with special kinds of motor rehabilitation programmes, such as after a stroke.

The interdisciplinary project brought together researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Music in Human and Social Development, Clinical Research Imaging Centre, and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, and from Clinical Neuropsychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

The results are published in the journal Brain & Cognition.

Dr Katie Overy, who led the research team said: “The study suggests that music makes a key difference. We have long known that music encourages people to move. This study provides the first experimental evidence that adding musical cues to learning new motor task can lead to changes in white matter structure in the brain.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of EdinburghNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

www.sciencedaily.com, www.msidallas.com



5 ways how music can be therapeutic for your mind, body and soul

Who doesn’t love music? But have you ever thought that music can augment the rate of healing of patients.

Music can not only rejuvenate your mind, body and soul but can heal you emotionally and physically. It can provide you several health-related benefits as well. On the occasion of World Music Day, we will shed light on few of such benefits of listening music.

Even many researchers and scientists have revealed that music can augment the rate of healing of patients.

Below are the benefits of music:

Treating insomnia:

Due to the fast pace and modern lifestyle, people often complains of sleeping disorders. The change in the working pattern of people and staying awake late night, usage of mobile or other electronic devices at night hugely disturbs the biological clock of humans. Usually in such cases experts advise to listen music to get rid of such problems. Music therapy can be used to heal the sleeping disorder.

To de-stress:

Music is not just a mode of entertainment and fun, but can be used to destress yourself. If you are suffering from depression or similar mental issues, music can be your saviour. An hour of soft and soothing music can surely help you to relieve from all day-long stress.

Pain reliever:

Literally! Music can help you to get rid of your severe pain in just a go.  You must have seen people intaking several allopathic drugs, to get relief from the unbearable pain. But very few know that by using music therapy you can reduce your pain to much extent.

Boosting energy level:

Soft music can not only increase your energy level, but boost your enthusiasm too, which can act like a catalyst for.

Keep optimistic:

Often music lovers can be seen holding an optimistic attitude for everything. They positively cope with any hardship in their life. Even athlete and sportspersons can be witnessed experiencing music therapy during their practice session to reduce their nervousness.

Unlisted author; www.indiatvnews.com, www.msidallas.com



Music might be the medicine you need

IF you enjoy listening to music, then you’re not alone.

As Stevie Wonder once said “music is a world within itself, it is a language we all understand”.

Whether it’s blasting through the speakers in our car, playing in the background at work or booming through our IPod whilst we work out, many of us revel in the sounds that music brings to our ears.

I am grateful to have grown up in a household that always had music playing, and I continue to do this as an adult. I have a large music collection, a rich repertoire of music knowledge and I’m a good asset to have on your team at a quiz night.

Unfortunately, my parents taste in music was at times, questionable, and my memory has held on to lyrics of too many bad songs that I grew up with (“Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, with yellow feath…”). You get the picture.

We know that playing an instrument is good for our brain, but the benefits of music is not limited to only those who can play.

For those non-musicians out there, who can play nothing more than a smooth rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star like myself, merely listening to music can have a powerful effect on your mind and body.

If you’ve ever jumped into your car after a rotten day at work and felt better after listening to a particular song at the highest decibel you could cope with, then you will know the positive effect that music can have on your stress levels. It decreases the cortisol levels in your body, which counteracts the effects of stress and anxiety.

Listening to music in the car has also been shown to reduce road rage as it progressively increases your mood whilst you are driving.

Music that we enjoy can also make us happier, as our brain releases dopamine whilst we are listening, which gives us an emotional boost that makes us feel euphoric. So music can play a role in reducing the symptoms of depression.

For those who want to boost performance in a specific area of their life, would fair better by playing their favorite playlist in the lead up to whatever they need to do.

Whether it be a speaking gig or an athletic performance, music pumps us up and energises us for optimal performance. There’s one major reason why people work out to music – it’s because they perform better when listening to it.

Listening to music can also help with easing pain. A recent study showed that patients who listened to music before, during and after surgery reduced their pain considerably, even more so than the use of painkillers. Music turns our attention away from pain.

As Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”.

Sleeping problems can also be hampered by listening to music. It’s not only babies that can fall asleep to a soft lullaby. Music has a soothing ability that can even benefit us adults. So if counting sheep isn’t working for you at the moment, perhaps a countdown of your favourite soft tunes is a better alternative.

The key to music being beneficial to our psychological and physical health is that it needs to be enjoyable to us, personally. Listening to Kanye West when you’re a Mozart fan, or Kylie Minogue when you prefer Slipknot is not going to work. In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect.

To get the greatest health benefits out of music, play whatever type you want, and as loud or soft as you like it. It affects the emotional functions of your brain, so make sure it has meaning to you.

There’s nothing like music to make an event more enjoyable, to get one reminiscing about their past or to make you feel more alive. And there’s nothing like music to make you feel better.

In fact, music might be the medicine you need right now.

Dr Marny Lishman, www.perthnow.com, www.msidallas.com



The Multiple Benefits of Music Education

Music is a unique form of communication that can change the way students feel, think and act. It is one of the best tools for child’s development. Scientific research has proven that music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social, and creative potential. It speeds the development of speech and reading skills, it trains children to focus their attention for sustained periods, and it helps them gain a sense of empathy for others.

Music education also plays an important role in children’s language development. According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Dr. Kyle Pruett, Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician, agreed that the development of language over time tends to enhance part of the brain that helps process music. She added that language competence is at the root of social competence and music experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent. Reading and speaking abilities are among the most important skills that we gain through experience, and help us understand our native language and new ones.

Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem. According to Zabinki, music exposure to music education gives students an advantage in understanding basic mathematical concepts such as ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time.

Music education develops children’s critical skills: their ability to listen, to appreciate a wide variety of music, and to make judgements about musical quality. It also increases self-discipline, creativity, aesthetic sensitivity and fulfillment. Lastly, students and even adults who are engaged in music studies are sharpening their cognitive skills and developing social connections.

Eunice Maratas, www.pattayatoday.net, www.msidallas.com



Teaching April 10, 2017 Dysmusia – how dyslexic research and therapy can overcome difficulties in reading music notation

Cellist and language therapist Dr Elizabeth Morrow describes developmental dysmusia – an inability to read a musical score – and offers guidance for teachers in overcoming the difficulty.

About five years ago my professional life took a hard right turn, which has opened up a surprising area of inquiry. As a newly Certified Academic Language Therapist, I found myself in conversation with string teachers on a regular basis who were questioning how to help children who had difficulty learning to read music. It seemed to be a problem particularly in classroom programmes. When presented with such a student myself, I recognised behaviours familiar from Language Therapy – inconsistency, hesitation, lack of retention – that didn’t seem to improve when I applied my standard teaching practices. It appeared that his confusion stemmed from a fundamental lack of understanding about the entire system of note reading. Because there is no universal music-reading mandate, there is scant scientific research into this problem. Accordingly, I began investigating evidence of developmental dysmusia, an inability to read a musical score.¹

In conversation with friends and colleagues over several years, I found this issue to be more common than I had imagined. To expand my understanding, I issued an informal survey to string teachers and directors. Out of 84 respondents, 96.5 per cent said they had experienced students in their programmes or studios who did not or could not learn to read music within the context of standard instruction. 71 per cent said that it was common or somewhat common for these children to already have diagnosed learning differences, and almost 50 per cent affirmed that these children dropped out of their programmes.² This suggests a problem in need of a solution.

How can we help these students? The science of dyslexia research can help to inform the problem, and also inspire a solution. Because of our universal mandate for reading, dyslexia has been highly researched and remediation solutions have been developed through an approach known as Multisensory Structured Language Education (MSLE). As a Language Therapist, I use this approach daily to successfully remediate children who teachers and parents thought were incapable of learning.

Dyslexia research shows us that there are several parts of the brain that need to communicate with each other in order to be able to read fluently. While dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains have the same basic structure, research has shown that dyslexic brains lack essential wiring that allows certain areas of the brain to intercommunicate, to process understanding, and to store learned information. MSLE can actually build the wiring necessary for the brain to read fluently.

What are the problems inherent in our string music education approach that cause students with learning differences to struggle? Could the MSLE approach be a solution? Most string education programmes are taught from the perspective of learning to play the instrument, not how to read music. However, this can confound brains that are not sufficiently wired for reading acquisition.

A few examples of these problems:

  •  String students are taught beginning with open strings. From a reading standpoint, there is an immediate disconnect between the first two notes learned, D and A. There is no obvious relationship between these two notes that allows the brain to retain the information. From the very beginning, students must make random associations that don’t support retention in new learning.
  • Duration instruction begins with quarter notes (crotchets). For the purpose of beginning playing instruction, it is a logical choice, but from a reading standpoint, it is like learning the alphabet beginning with the letter M. The brain has to process additional learning in two different directions, toward longer and shorter durations, compounding learning challenges.
  • For logical reasons, combined classroom programmes typically begin in the key of D major. However, from a reading standpoint this approach doesn’t encourage students to draw upon alphabetic connections. Also, they are learning chromatic alterations without understanding meaning (one of my challenged students told me that a sharp means more fingers!) Acquiring knowledge without understanding the underlying logic makes it very difficult for certain brains to correctly build wiring.

A learning system based on MSLE uses all available sensory pathways to enhance memory and learning and contains these principles³:

  • Instruction must be systematic and cumulative.
  • It follows the natural order of musical language, beginning with the easiest and progressing methodically to subsequent elements, never skipping steps.
  • Every element is presented explicitly and directly, and inference is never assumed.
  • Each instructional session is diagnostic – the instructor must assess what is appropriate for the next lesson.
  • Synthetic and analytical instruction must be integrated into all teaching.

Some examples of applying these principles to music reading would be:

  • Using discovery learning to build understanding, beginning with the staff (stave), its history, structure, and meaning.
  • Learning notes (one at a time) by following the alphabetic principle – beginning with A!
  • Teaching accidentals only after students can name and identify at least one octave and have been fully introduced to the concept of half steps and whole steps.
  • Beginning duration instruction with the whole note (semibreve), which has the added feature of being different from every other duration, as it has no stem. The whole note cannot be confused with another duration, and the learning of additional durations proceeds in one direction only.
  • Practising handwriting notation, as dyslexia research shows ‘the effort of manually holding a writing instrument and forming letters engaged the brain’s neural pathways.’4
  • Adding new learning incrementally, and only when previous learning is secure.
  • Learning simultaneously to read notation and to write notation through dictation. Learning to analyse and to synthesise rhythms (break down and build up from component parts).

My work with struggling string students has demonstrated that this approach aids learning. It is not a quick fix, and it necessarily does NOT align with traditional classroom instruction. What it does do is draw on researched and proven reading systems to create a strong foundation of understanding (not just knowledge) upon which future learning can flourish.

Dr Elizabeth Morrow, www.thestrad.com, www.msidallas.com