What are the effects of music therapy on the human brain? Is it exciting
or motivating? What is kind of feeling that human could be experiencing?
According to Canadian Association for Music Therapy, it could be said that “Music has nonverbal,
creative, structural, and emotional qualities which are used in the therapeutic
relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression,
communication, and personal development”. Music is one of the greatest human
creation that has been presented in many aspects of people’ life. Most people
experienced that their mood has changed by either listening to music or getting
involved with music through different activities such as singing or playing the
instruments. People might find themselves calm, exciting, or motivating by
listening to music. Recognizing the
therapeutic function of music dates back to ancient times, when through music
and dance, the evil spirit was removed from a patient’s body. Through the
course of centuries, the healing role of music has changed up to the 20th
century, when it was scientifically and formally utilized in different clinical
settings. Using music as a remedial tool in hospitals started in the United
States, where the patients were the veterans who were emotionally and
physically traumatized during World War I and World War II. Since then, the
profession of music therapy has begun to develop.  According to the Canadian Association for Music
“Music therapy is the
skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to
promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual
health”. Music therapists are specialized to apply music to effectively
improve the patient’s life by improving their brain performance through several
types of activities. The activities fall into two categories of music therapy:
receptive music therapy and active music therapy. In receptive music therapy,
patients are inactive and just listen to music, while in the active techniques,
patients are participating in producing music by singing, song writing, or
playing instruments. Music therapists use one or combination of both techniques
for their treatments. Therefore, music as a remedial medium has been utilized
since many years ago and it has developed, and now music therapy has been
recognized as a profession. There
are many positive effects of music therapy on the human brain. Advancing the
brain’s performance, rehabilitating the motor skills, and developing the
social-emotional and behavioral skills, are the major benefits of the music
therapy on the human brain.


Music therapy advances the brain’s
performance by increasing cognitive functioning. Cognitive health is become one
of the major concerns for many countries, especially in the aging population. It
has been related with quality of life and to all set of activities that a person
does with information including intake, comprehension, processing, execution
and memorization. For instance, decision making is a result of a cognitive
behavior which determines the quality of a person’s life. Recalling memory is a
part of the cognition function which is impaired in people’s brain who suffer
from some mental illnesses such as Alzheimer. Memory fragments can be retrieved
by music therapy, and the experiences with patients with Alzheimer proved the
positive effect of music therapy on their memory recalling. Attention is also a
cognition behavior, and it can be improved by music therapy. Music distracts
people from other stimuli, as it engages parts of the brain which are related
to attention. Music therapy works well as a treatment for people with Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). All in all, research and studies support
that music therapy develops the cognitive functioning in the human brain. Thus,
music therapy enhances the brain performance.  


The following graph shows the results
of ANOVAs for repeated measures for 12 months in different area of cognitive
functioning (Attention, Learning and Memory, Language, Executive Function, and
Visual Perception).

It shows improvement in all aspects













          Rehabilitation of motor skills is
another positive effect of music therapy on the brain’s functioning.  Motor skills are the skills involve with any activities
that muscles do. It is the relation between a brain and muscles. Walking,
reaching, grasping are examples of motor functioning of the brain. Patients who
have Parkinson’s disease, for instance, have motor skills impairment. By music
therapy, movement which is related to motor skills in brain is enhanced. Music
enters the brain via auditory nerves and goes straight to the motor nerve in the
spinal cord. This induces the muscles to rhythmically move and match themselves
to the music beats. This process happens naturally without thinking or any
brain processing. Music therapists take advantage of this quality of music and
its influence on the brain in order to assist patients to improve their motor
movement. Studies on patients after strokes reveal that the active music
therapy through playing instruments integrates audio motor, which leads to a
better movement.  Coordination difficulty
and poor balance in motor skills are also addressed by music therapy. Motor
coordination associates with harmoniously moving different parts of a body in
an efficient way in a proper time. For instance, top athletes have
extraordinary motor coordination and balance ability. The rhythmic characteristics
of music can stimulate motor coordination as well as movement. It makes sense
to someone experienced to do complex movements in aerobic exercise by the help
of music. Another example is dancing. Scientists observed improvement in limbs coordination
and balance in patients with Parkinson’s disease utilizing music therapy. In
addition, there are about 33 million people in world their life was saved from a
stroke that could have many effects such as impairment in motor and sensory
system, emotion and language perception, causing challenges in daily life. In
order to mitigate the challenges caused by impairment of the sensor system, the
scientists have been introduced in the last decade physio and occupational
therapy as treatment, which is a training to activate new area in the cerebral
cortex. Overall, music therapy can recover motor skills in human brain.




The following graphs shows the vertical displacement
of wrist (green) and finger (blue)of right and left hand for TPs











Music therapy can help people to
develop their social-emotional and behavioral skills. In fact, emotional
expression is a crucial part of the communication skills. Owing to the fact
that either listening to or making music activates the limbic structure in a
brain, which is related to emotional processes, it is quite conceivable that
music therapy is able to facilitate the emotional expression considered a
non-verbal type of a communication. In addition, skills such as reciprocity, taking
turn, responding after listening are improved in a shared play of music. With
this in mind, music therapists are capable of assisting autistic patients to
develop their previously mentioned interpersonal skills in group music therapy
sessions. Accordingly, music therapy could positively influence people’s
communication skills.











In conclusion, music therapy can optimize
the brain processes. The rhythmic trait of music stimulates some regions in a
brain which it leads to recover the impaired part and makes the brain function
more effectively.  Consequently, the improvements
and rehabilitation could develop cognition, motor skills and communication
skills. Therefore, both healthy people and patients are able to exploit music
therapy to boost quality of their lives. Considering all advantages of music
therapy, there are not enough experts available in this field to be employed in
medical sites. Public awareness should be raised regarding this profession, and
at the same time the related programs should be offered by more institutions,
college or universities to train students in order to promote this profession




Aldridge, D. (2005). Music Therapy and
Neurological Rehabilitation : Performing Health.
London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Canadian Association for Music Therapy. (2014). Retrieved from Music Therapy: http://www.musictherapy.ca/en/

A.A., Pasiali, V, LaGasse, B. (2008). Neurologic music
therapy. In A. Darrow (Ed.), Introduction to Approaches in Music Therapy
{2″‘^ ed.). Sil- ver Spring, MD: American Music Therapy Association.

F. B., Bucher, H.-U., Bassler, D., & Hagmann, C. (2017). Creative music
therapy to promote brain structure, function, and neurobehavioral outcomes in
preterm infants: a randomized controlled pilot trial protocol. Pilot
and Feasibility Studies, 3(1). Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.agpc.talonline.ca/apps/doc/A507113489/AONE?u=gran24258&sid=AONE&xid=8066b49d


therapy and traumatic brain injury; a light on a dark night. (2009, December). SciTech
Book News. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.agpc.talonline.ca/apps/doc/A213545315/AONE?u=gran24258&sid=AONE&xid=4d228282








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