Um espaço para partilha de ideias relacionadas com as práticas artísticas
e os seus efeitos terapêuticos, com destaque para a vertente musical

segunda-feira, 13 de outubro de 2014

How playing an INSTRUMENT benefits your BRAIN

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. 

What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

quinta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2014

Music has the power to heal

There is an old belief, now being revisited, that music has the power to heal. Where does this idea come from, and how does it apply to traditional Chinese music?
"Our ancestors believed that music had the power to harmonize a person’s soul in ways that medicine could not. In ancient China, one of music’s earliest purposes was for healing. The Chinese word, or character, for medicine actually comes from the character for music.
During the time of the Great Yellow Emperor (2698-2598 B.C.E.), people discovered the relationship between the pentatonic scale, the five elements, and the health five internal and five sensory organs. During Confucius time, scholars used music’s calming properties to improve strengthen people’s character and conduct. 
Today, scientific research has also validated music’s therapeutic ability to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, enhance concentration, stabilize heart rate, and more."
 Gao Yuan 

You can find the whole interview with Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra Composer Gao Yuan here

quarta-feira, 1 de outubro de 2014

Lullabies reduce pain in children, say academics

A study at Great Ormond Street Hospital suggests lullabies do more than just help babies sleep – they reduce pain in sick children

Parents should sing to their children when they hurt themselves as lullabies help to reduce their pain, a study has found. 

Singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Hushabye Baby and Five Little Ducks to sick children was found to alleviate their suffering by researchers at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

They sang the songs to a group of children under three, some of whom were waiting for heart transplants, and monitored their heart rates and pain perception. 

The scientists then compared this with two other groups, one in which the children had been read to and the other where they had been left alone, and found only those who had been sung to showed a reduction in pain or heart rate.

Professor David Hargreaves of Roehampton University, one of the study’s authors, said the results went further than many parents' intuitive sense that singing lullabies calms children.

"It shows that children can be affected physiologically by music," he said.

He underlined that the research was still in the early stages, but added: "The practical applications are fairly obvious. Music therapists are going to be a lot cheaper than drugs to numb pain."

Professor Tim Griffiths, a consultant neurologist with the Wellcome Trust, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “There’s an ancient part of the brain in the limbic system which is responsible for the emotional responses to music.

"What I think is happening here is that the emotional part of the brain is being stimulated by music, more so than the reading stimulus," he said of the study at the London children’s hospital.

“This is decreasing the arousal level, and that in turn is affecting their pain response levels.”

The songs researchers used to reduce pain:
  • Hush Little Baby
  • Hushabye Baby
  • See Saw Margery Daw
  • Donkey Riding
  • Little Fish
  • Twinkle Twinkle
  • Five Little Ducks

quinta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2014

This is your brain in your favorite song

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.
Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty

When people listen to music they enjoy, their brains drift into a resting daydream, regardless of the genre.

Some prefer the twangs of the steel guitar in country, others the soaring arias of opera. Yet despite individual preferences, people’s favorite tunes generate strikingly similar brain activity patterns and can even enhance their creative ability, according to new research.

We already know that emotional connections to music can be strong, but exactly how favorite melodies influence brain patterns is an ongoing area of discovery.

The researchers scanned the brains of 21 young adults using an MRI machine while piping in music recordings. Each person listened to a genre they liked, one they disliked and their favorite song. 
By separating out the patterns that were related to the music’s beat or lyrics, the researchers found the underlying changes in brain activity related to enjoying a favorite song.
A person's preferred music enhances connections between different regions of the brain, a pattern called the default mode network (DMN), the researchers report. This network is associated with introspection, self-awareness, mind-wandering and possibly imagination. 
When the DMN is activated, another network, the task-positive network (TPN)—which is involved in goal-oriented activity—is shut down. The two states can be thought of as focus on the outside world (the TPN) and focus on inner thoughts (the DMN). Earlier this month, another research group figured out how to switch between these two modes in mice. 
Certain brain disorders seem to involve trouble with activating one mode or another or with switching between the two. For example, since people with autism seem to have problems with DMN activity, the new study’s authors suggest that music therapy may help.
More work needs to be done to investigate the connection between music and mental states before we know if music can help people with autism, but for now, know that the frisson of happy feelings you get when you listen to your favorite song has basis in biology.
Info from:

segunda-feira, 18 de agosto de 2014

How Repetition Enchants the Brain and the Psychology of Why We Love It in Music

“Music takes place in time, but repetition beguilingly makes it knowable in the way of something outside of time.”

“The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism,” Haruki Murakami reflected on the power of a daily routine.“Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue,” Mary Oliver about the secret of great poetry, adding: “When it does, it grows sweeter.” But nowhere does rhythmic repetition mesmerize us more powerfully than in music, with its singular way of enchanting the brain.

How and why this happens is precisely what cognitive scientist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas, explores in On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind(public library). This illuminating short animation from TED Ed, based on Margulis’s work, explains the psychology of the “mere exposure effect,” which makes things grow sweeter simply as they become familiar — a parallel manifestation of the same psychological phenomenon that causes us to rate familiar statements as more likely to be true than unfamiliar ones.

Margulis writes:
"Music takes place in time, but repetition beguilingly makes it knowable in the way of something outside of time. It enables us to “look” at a passage as a whole, even while it’s progressing moment by moment. But this changed perspective brought by repetition doesn’t feel like holding a score and looking at a passage’s notation as it progresses. Rather, it feels like a different way of inhabiting a passage — a different kind of orientation."

In On Repeat, a fine addition to these essential books on the psychology of music, Margulis goes on to explore how advances in cognitive science have radically changed our understanding of just why repetition is so psychoemotionally enticing.

Info from Brain Pickings

terça-feira, 22 de julho de 2014

Seven Ways That Music Benefits Your Health - part II

Lets see the effect music can have on a physical/ mental and psychological level. Take a look at the first part of this post here;

4) Makes you Happier
Music affects our emotional state, making you feel happy, ecstatic or even sad. According to a study, your brain releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, when you listen to tunes that move you. Sometimes you also experience feeling of shivers or chills while listening to a particular track, this shows that brain releases large amount of dopamine, that gives you happiness and pleasure. So listening to music gives us the same hit of happiness that we would get from a piece of chocolate, sex or drugs.

While another study shows that Music with a quick tempo in a major key, brought about all the physical changes associated with happiness in listeners. In contrast, a slow tempo and minor key led to sadness.

Even when we listen to happy music with the intention to feel happy, it always works as opposed to simply listening to music without attempting to alter our mood.

5) Boosts your immune system and reduce Pain
Music has been found to reduce the levels of stress hormone, cortisol, which can weaken the immune system and is responsible for many illnesses. If you like to dance to uplifting music, then you are definitely on a path to better health. Scientists found that after listening to just 50 minutes of uplifting dance music, the levels of antibodies in participants’ bodies increased.

Different types of music might have different effect, but it also depends on your personal preference and what tunes resonate with your soul. What resonates with the spirit, does have a healing effect.

6) Reduces Depression and Anxiety
Listening to music has much more effect on the human mind and psyche. Researchers say that it can helpease anxiety among cancer patients, have positive effects on their mood, pain and improve quality of life. Researchers from Drexel University found that cancer patients who either listened to music or worked with a music therapist experienced a reduction in anxiety, had better blood pressure levels and improved moods.

7) Keeps an aging brain healthy
Having musical training could help keep the brain healthy as people grow older. Any kind of musical activity in life serves as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain sharper and more capable of dealing with challenges of aging.

Even someone with brain damage or dementia can recover memories through listening to music. It is ingrained in our deepest core of being, no matter the language, the sound and the rhythm resonates deep within. Like Kahlil Gibran puts it, “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”

Info from The Mind Unleashed

segunda-feira, 21 de julho de 2014

Seven Ways That Music Benefits Your Health - part I

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” 
Billy Joel

From reducing stress levels, to elevating your current state of consciousness, or taking you in a state of trance – it opens the doors to newer dimensions – dimensions which can only be accessed in a certain state of mind.

Music seems to be part of our biological heritage, because infants have excellent musical abilities, that’s why many to-be mothers sing to their unborn child, because they respond/dance to different types of music.

No human culture on earth has ever lived without it: Music has been used across different cultures for healing purpose. In ancient Greece, music was used to ease stress, promote sleep, and soothe pain. Native Americans and Africans used singing and chanting as part of their healing rituals, like the shamans. Even the Chinese character for medicine includes the character for music. Music and healing goes hand in hand.

Lets see the effect music can have on a physical/ mental and psychological level: 

1) Improves your visual and verbal skills
Early music education stimulates a child’s brain, leading to improved performance in verbal intelligence. This was suggested in a study among 4-to 6-year-olds who received only one month of musical training. It included training in rhythm, pitch, melody, voice and basic musical concepts, and this proved to have a “transfer effect,” enhancing their ability to understand words and explain their meaning.

Another study among 8 to 11-year-olds found that those who had extra-curricular music classes, developed higher verbal IQ, and visual abilities, in comparison to those with no musical training.

Even one-year-old babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.

2) Affects the heartbeat, pulse rate and blood pressure
As Nietzsche, said, ‘We listen to music with our muscles.’ Studies have proved that music can not only strengthen the heart but also improve the recovery of patients suffering from heart disease.

No matter the genre of music, listening to one’s favorite music releases endorphins in the brain that improves the vascular health. (Opera, classical and other types of ‘joyful’ music were more likely to stimulate endorphins as opposed to heavy metal)

At Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, men and women who listened to music soon after undergoing cardiac surgery were less anxious and reported having less pain than those who just rested quietly.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, a nurse-led team found that heart patients confined to bed who listened to music for 30 minutes had lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, and less distress than those who didn’t listen to music.

The rhythm, the melody and harmony, all play a role in the emotional and cardiovascular response.

3) Improves sleep quality in students
Young or old, we all face sleep problems, in some cases, regularly, in other cases, when we’ve had an overactive day. Listening to soft music is indeed relaxing, hence improving the quality of your sleep.
Research shows that music can help reduce several factors known to interfere with sleep (including stress and anxiety), promote physical changes that support more restful sleep (such as lowered heart and respiratory rates), and aid in treatment of Insomnia.