Mozart Effect Although it is only in recent times that scientists have started to document the effects of music, the qualities of music were understood even in earliest times. Evidence suggests that dance and song preceded speech, which means that music is the original language of humans. Researcher’s have found that about two-thirds of the inner ear’s cilia resonate only at the higher frequencies that are commonly found in music (3,000 – 20,000 Hz). This seems to indicate that primitive humans communicated primarily through song or tone. The ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras, best known for his work in mathematics, thought the whole universe was comprised of sounds and numbers.
There has long been an awareness that music affects us, even if the reasons are not clear. Around 900 B.C., David played the harp “to cure Saul’s derangement” (Gonzalez-Crussi). One os the world’s oldest medical documents, the Ebers Papyrus (circa 1500 B.C.), prescribed incantations that Egyptian physicians chanted to heal the sick. This is perhaps the first recorded use of music for therapy. The positive influence of music may have also saved Beethoven’s life in the early eighteenth century.
In a letter he wrote, “I would have ended my life-it was only my art that held me back” (Kamien). Every human civilization has developed some sort of musical idiom and has used it as a form of tranquilizer, as a lullaby. Great civilizations have developed without the wheel, without a written language, without money, but the use of soothing sounds seems to be a very basic component of human physiology. There are distinct differences between compositions of different societies, but in spite of this, they can convey the same moods, the same feelings, in all people. As Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Illness launched the era of scientific medicine, music largely faded from formal medical settings. Fortunately, it never completely disappeared.
American medicine first started experimenting with the therapeutic use of music during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As early as 1804, Edwin Atlee, wrote an essay in which he hoped to show that music, “has a powerful influence upon the mind, and consequently on the body.” Modern music therapy began to develop in the 1940’s when psychotherapists used music to calm anxious patients, and music therapy programs were established in several university psychology departments. The relatively new field of neuro-musicology has been developed to experiment with music as a tool and to dissect and shape it to the needs of society. The auditory sense The visible portion of the ear consists of an external shell, with an aperture known as the meatus or auditory canal in the lower half. At the other end of this canal, about an inch inside the head is a small membrane of skin about 3/1000 of an inch thick.
This piece of skin is stretched tightly over a framework of bone much like skin is stretched over a frame of wood to make a drum, and hence the name eardrum. Just behind the eardrum lies a chain of three small bones known as ossicles. The first ossicle is in contact with the eardrum, and the last presses against the oval window that leads to the cochlea. The ossicles serve to amplify the tiny changes in air pressure. The oval window passes the motion on to the fluid inside the cochlea. The neural tissue in the cochlea lies on the basilar membrane.
The basilar membrane holds the auditory receptors, tiny hair cells called cilia. Waves in the fluid of the ear stimulate the hair cells to send signals to through the thalamus to the temporal lobes of the brain. Sound reaches the ear in the form of waves which have traveled through the surrounding air. When the waves reach the ear, they exert varying pressures on the ear-drum and it is sent into motion. This motion is eventually detected by nerves and sent to the brain (as described above). The ear-drum is a remarkably sensitive instrument, an air displacement of only a ten-billionth of an inch is enough to send a signal to the brain. This is far more sensitive than the best barometers that scientists have today.
Although the ear is very sensitive to minute changes in air pressure, it is only when these pressure changes are repeated in rapid succession that the messages are passed to the brain. Music Therapy Heart Attacks The latest research demonstrates that music therapy has a variety of healing effects. A study was conducted on three separate coronary care units in hospitals. One group received only standard care, the second group practiced a form of meditation, and the third group listened to sedative classical and popular music. The patients who received only the standard care all showed high levels of stress hormones in their blood, and rapid heart rates.
These are both undesirable reactions that can impair the immune system and slow healing. The meditation and music groups showed significantly lower heart rates and levels of stress hormones. The music group was the least stressed. Cancer In a study at the Montefiore Hospital in Pittsburgh, fifteen adults suffering from a variety of cancers were receiving chemotherapy. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting.
A music-imagery program significantly reduced the nausea and the amount of vomiting. Immune system Stress triggers the release of certain hormones that suppress the immune system. In one study of night-shift nurses who suffered from health problems, a twenty-minutes tape of sedative music and guided imagery reduced their levels of stress hormones. Blood Pressure/Heart Rate A study at the State University of New York suggests that music could help prevent the rise in blood pressure that some people experience while performing potentially stressful tasks. The study tested the effects of music on 50 male surgeons as they performed mental arithmetic tasks. The surgeons performed this task under three conditions: while listening to music of their own choice, listening to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, and in silence.
Blood pressures increased the least when the surgeons were listening to music of their own choice. Blood pressure rose when the surgeons performed the task while listening to Pachelbel, and increased the most in complete silence. The average heart rate followed a pattern similar to the blood pressure. Speed and accuracy was the best while listening to Pachelbel. The type of music that the surgeons selected for themselves did not seem to affect their outcomes. Forty-six of the participants selected classical music, two selected jazz, and two selected Irish folk.
This study gives strong evidence that a soothing environment can help reduce blood-pressure elevations that result from psychological stress. The entrainment effect offers one other explanation for the physiological effects of music. Entrainment is the bodies ability to synchronize its rhythms with the rhythms of vibrating bodies around it. For example, babies in neonatal care units have been known to synchronize their natural rhythms with those generated by nearby computer monitors, matching their heart rate to the monitor’s beeping. Studies on adults have also been able to duplicate this effect with music.
When volunteers were subjected to stress, their heart rates rose as expected. However, when they listened to a simulated slow heart beat, their tension levels decreased and their heart rates slowed. It is possible to change a person’s heart rate with music that is written in a specific tempo. When patients with a racing heart listen to music with about 50 to 60 beats per minute, their heart rate usually slows down to synchronize with the slower rhythm of the music. Autism Nonverbal communication between and autistic child playing the drums and a therapist on the piano can serve to bring a child out of isolation, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported.
Clive E. Robbins, Ph.D., says “it’s a way of reaching into the child’s mind.” He compared the musical interaction to verbal communication. “As we speak, we improvise, you ask a question, I respond. So it is with music. It can be used as flexibly as we use speech to reach children with language problems.
It bypasses those difficulties. Neurologic research is discovering that the brain comes into synthetic activity in response to music. Some say the brain is fundamentally programmed so that the organic connections are symphonic rather than mechanistic.” Exercise Light rock music is often used in various exercise programs. It helps the body to move to an even rhythm, and the muscles to work more smoothly. It also has the effect of increasing stamina, boosting endurance and lowering heart rate. Memory The right hemisphere of the brain, which has to do with feelings, imagery, and the unconscious, is activated by music.
Janalea Hoffman, a therapists works with a lot of adults who have experienced major gaps in their memories of childhood. Using music, they are often able to recall lost or suppressed experiences, which in turn may eliminate the emotional underpinning for their physical ailments. Paul Newham, founder of the International Association for Voice and Movement Therapy in London, explored the therapeutic difference between speaking and singing. Whereas Sigmund Freud pioneered the talking cure, in which patients free associations offered a “royal road” to the unconscious mind, Newham believes that the singing voice offers a more direct route to the unconscious mind. He says, “the whole purpose of psychoanalysis is to disable the controlling domination of the conscious, particularly the superego, to see what emerges when the language of the unconscious is allowed to speak.
Freud did that through language, through free association. I think that it’s one stage further to strip away verbility itself and to allow the voice to speak directly through song.” States of Consciousness It has been repeatedly demonstrated that brain waves can be modified by both music and self-generated sounds. Ordinary consciousness consists of beta waves, which vibrate from 14 to 20 Hz. Beta waves occur when we focus on daily activities in teh external world, as well as when we experience negative emotions. Heightened awareness and calm are characterized by alpha waves, which cycle from 8 to 13 Hz.
Periods of peak creativity, meditation, and sleep are characterized by theta waves, from 4 to 7 Hz. Deep sleep, and deep meditation and unconsciousness pr …