The part of your brain responsible for ASMR catalogs music, and appears to be a stronghold against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Some music inspires you to move your feet, some inspires you to get out there and change the world. In any case, and to move hurriedly on to the point of this article, it’s fair to say that music moves people in special ways.
If you’re especially into a piece of music, your brain does something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), which feels to you like a tingling in your brain or scalp. It’s nature’s own little “buzz”, a natural reward, that is described by some as a “head orgasm”. Some even think that it explains why people go to church, for example, “feeling the Lord move through you”, but that’s another article for another time.
Turns out that ASMR is pretty special. According to a recently published study in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (catchy name!), the part of your brain responsible for ASMR doesn’t get lost to Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s tends to put people into layers of confusion, and the study confirms that music can sometimes actually lift people out of the Alzheimer’s haze and bring them back to (at least a semblance of) normality… if only for a short while. ASMR is powerful stuff!
This phenomenon has been observed several times but rarely studied properly. One of the most famous examples of this is the story of Henry, who comes out of dementia while listening to songs from his youth:
Jeff Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in Radiology at the Univerity of Utah Health and contributing author on the study, says “In our society, the diagnoses of dementia are snowballing and are taxing resources to the max. No one says playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it might make the symptoms more manageable, decrease the cost of care and improve a patient’s quality of life.”
Music Therapy Can Reduce Depression in Children and Teens
Summary: A new study reports music therapy can help to reduce depressive symptoms in children and teens with emotional and behavioral problems.
Researchers at Bournemouth University and Queen’s University Belfast have discovered that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems.
In partnership with Every Day Harmony (the brand name for Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust), the researchers found that children and young people, aged 8-16-years-old, who received music therapy had significantly improved self-esteem and reduced depression compared with those who received treatment without music therapy.
The study, which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, also found that young people aged 13 and over who received music therapy had improved communicative and interactive skills, compared to those who received usual care options alone. Music therapy also improved social functioning over time in all age groups.
In the largest ever study of its kind, 251 children and young people were involved in the study, which took place between March 2011 and May 2014. They were divided into two groups: 128 underwent the usual care options, while 123 were assigned to music therapy in addition to usual care. All were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioural problems.
Professor Sam Porter of the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work at Bournemouth University, who led the study, said: “This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs. The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support.”
In the largest ever study of its kind, 251 children and young people were involved in the study, which took place between March 2011 and May 2014. They were divided into two groups: 128 underwent the usual care options, while 123 were assigned to music therapy in addition to usual care. All were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioural problems. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Bournemouth University.
Dr Valerie Holmes, Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast and co-researcher, added: “This is the largest study ever to be carried out looking at music therapy’s ability to help this very vulnerable group.”
Ciara Reilly, Chief Executive of Every Day Harmony, the music therapy charity that was a partner in the research, said: “Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomised controlled trail in a clinical setting. The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option. For a long time, we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects. I would like to record my gratefulness to the Big Lottery Fund for its vision in providing the resources for this research to be carried out”.
The research team will now look at the data to establish how cost effective music therapy is in relation to other treatments.
Music therapy for children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems: a randomised controlled trial
Although music therapy (MT) is considered an effective intervention for young people with mental health needs, its efficacy in clinical settings is unclear. We therefore examined the efficacy of MT in clinical practice.
Two hundred and fifty-one child (8–16 years, with social, emotional, behavioural and developmental difficulties) and parent dyads from six Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service community care facilities in Northern Ireland were randomised to 12 weekly sessions of MT plus usual care [n = 123; 76 in final analyses] or usual care alone [n = 128; 105 in final analyses]. Follow-up occurred at 13 weeks and 26 weeks postrandomisation. Primary outcome was improvement in communication (Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales) (SSIS) at 13 weeks. Secondary outcomes included social functioning, self-esteem, depression and family functioning.
There was no significant difference for the child SSIS at week 13 (adjusted difference in mean 2.4; 95% CI −1.2 to 6.1; p = .19) or for the guardian SSIS (0.5; 95% CI −2.9 to 3.8; p = .78). However, for participants aged 13 and over in the intervention group, the child SSIS communication was significantly improved (6.1, 95% CI 1.6 to 10.5; p = .007) but not the guardian SSIS (1.1; 95% CI −2.9 to 5.2; p = .59). Overall, self-esteem was significantly improved and depression scores were significantly lower at week 13. There was no significant difference in family or social functioning at week 13.
While the findings provide some evidence for the integration of music therapy into clinical practice, differences relating to subgroups and secondary outcomes indicate the need for further study. ISRCTN Register; ISRCTN96352204.
“Music therapy for children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems: a randomised controlled trial” by Sam Porter, Tracey McConnell, Katrina McLaughlin, Fiona Lynn, Christopher Cardwell, Hannah-Jane Braiden, Jackie Boylan, Valerie Holmes, and On behalf of the Music in Mind Study Group in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Published online October 27 2016 doi:10.1111/jcpp.12656
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Source: Bournemouth University
Original Research: Full open access research for “Music therapy for children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems: a randomised controlled trial” by Sam Porter, Tracey McConnell, Katrina McLaughlin, Fiona Lynn, Christopher Cardwell, Hannah-Jane Braiden, Jackie Boylan, Valerie Holmes, and On behalf of the Music in Mind Study Group in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Published online October 27 2016 doi:10.1111/jcpp.12656