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By Julian O’Kelly Human responses to music may be viewed through a neuroscience lens with increasingly sophisticated neuroimaging technology, providing neurological and biomedical measures of psychological states.These developments have been harnessed in collaborative research investigations seeking to develop the therapeutic applications of music.However the considerable delay involved in recording the BOLD signal, means f MRI can only be considered as an indirect measure of music perception/processing in .
As a consequence of these collaborations, neuroscientific understanding is emerging of how music therapy may support improvements in cognition, movement and emotional regulation, as well as helping us to explore the neurological aspects of therapeutic relationships.
This paper provides an overview of this field of investigation, focussing on the significant areas of progress in work with those living with stroke, neurodegenerative conditions, affective disorders, disorders of consciousness, autism, cancer and palliative conditions.
Fachner (2016) outlined three core ways in which neuroscience methods may be used for music therapy research: (a) , where methods are focussed on the effects of specific musical features, and findings explored to identify brain based action mechanisms in the music therapy process. 2012; Bigand et al., 2015; Dalla Bella & Penhune, 2009,), which has been studied in detail from a music therapy perspective by Christensen (2012).
Hilleke and colleagues (2005) believe this type of research may address a failing of the music therapy literature, namely the abundance of heterogeneous, sometimes contradictory theoretical approaches that are hard to generalise to a wider multidisciplinary/international audiences. The increasing use of neuroscience methods by music psychologists, performance experts, and ethnomusicologists is also evident in a range of cross-disciplinary conferences in recent years e.g.
More recently, Norman-Haignere and colleagues (2015) have identified a specific region of the brain responding highly selectively to music, rather than only Figure 1.
Schematic illustration of key brain areas associated with music processing-based neuroimaging studies of healthy subjects.
the Society for Music Perception and Cognition and International Conference on Music & Emotion proceedings (Luck & Brabant 2013; Schutz, & Russo, 2013).
Furthermore, the potential for productive dialogue between music therapy, neuroscience and psychology in the field of neuro-disability has provided the rationale for a biennial series of highlights an exponential growth in interest since 2012, as Figure 2 illustrates.
Here, research in brain processes moves to theories on cognitive faculties enabling consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory, or the .
In all these areas of brain activity, our experience of music, in particular the way it engages our emotions, memory, cognition, and movement/motor activity are intimately related.