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Vocal Music Boosts the Recovery of Language Functions After Stroke

Research has shown that listening to music daily improves language recovery in patients who have experienced a stroke. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the phenomenon have so far remained unknown.

A study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Turku University Hospital Neurocenter compared the effect of listening to vocal music, instrumental music and audiobooks on the structural and functional recovery of the language network of patients who had suffered an acute stroke. In addition, the study investigated the links between such changes and language recovery during a three-month follow-up period. The study was published in the eNeuro journal.

Based on the findings, listening to vocal music improved the recovery of the structural connectivity of the language network in the left frontal lobe compared to listening to audiobooks. These structural changes correlated with the recovery of language skills.

“For the first time, we were able to demonstrate that the positive effects of vocal music are related to the structural and functional plasticity of the language network. This expands our understanding of the mechanisms of action of music-based neurological rehabilitation methods,” says Postdoctoral Researcher Aleksi Sihvonen.

Listening to music supports other rehabilitation

Aphasia, a language impairment resulting from a stroke, causes considerable suffering to patients and their families. Current therapies help in the rehabilitation of language impairments, but the results vary and the necessary rehabilitation is often not available to a sufficient degree and early enough.

“Listening to vocal music can be considered a measure that enhances conventional forms of rehabilitation in healthcare. Such activity can be easily, safely and efficiently arranged even in the early stages of rehabilitation,” Sihvonen says.

According to Sihvonen, listening to music could be used as a cost-efficient boost to normal rehabilitation, or for rehabilitating patients with mild speech disorders when other rehabilitation options are scarce.

After a disturbance of the cerebral circulation, the brain needs stimulation to recover as well as possible. This is the goal of conventional rehabilitation methods as well.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the time spent in hospital is not stimulating. At these times, listening to music could serve as an additional and sensible rehabilitation measure that can have a positive effect on recovery, improving the prognosis,” Sihvonen adds.

Source: University of Helsinki

Even on ‘Down’ Days, Music a Motivator for Runners

The key to pushing through mental fatigue while running might be adding some earbuds to your workout gear.

U.K. researchers worked with 18 fitness enthusiasts to determine the impact of music on running performance. They found that running to self-selected tunes improved runners’ performance when mentally fatigued during two separate tests.

“Mental fatigue is a common occurrence for many of us, and can negatively impact many of our day-to-day activities, including exercise,” said study author Shaun Phillips, of the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport.

The first test looked at the effects on interval running capacity — alternating between high-intensity running and lower-intensity jogging — on nine physically active exercisers. The second test involved a 3-mile time trial with nine runners.

The groups completed a 30-minute computer-based cognitive test that put them in a mentally fatigued state before completing high-intensity exercise. Researchers tested the runners both with and without self-selected motivational music after assisting the participants with a pre-test questionnaire that asked them to rate the rhythm, style, melody, tempo, sound and beat of the music.

Songs included Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Kanye West’s “Power” and Queens of the Strong Age’s “No One Knows.”

The researchers found the interval running capacity among the mentally fatigued fitness enthusiasts was greater with music compared to without music. It was the same as when the participants were not mentally fatigued.

The 3-mile time trial performances also showed small improvements with self-selected music versus no music.

The positive effects of music could potentially be due to altered perception of effort when listening to tunes, researchers said. This presents an opportunity for further study on how listening to music while running affects other groups of people, as well as in different exercise challenges. Research is ongoing at the University of Edinburgh.

“The findings indicate that listening to self-selected motivational music may be a useful strategy to help active people improve their endurance running capacity and performance when mentally fatigued,” Phillips said in a university news release. “This positive impact of self-selected music could help people to better maintain the quality and beneficial impact of their exercise sessions.”

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise.

Source: HealthDay

That Song Is Stuck in Your Head, but It’s Helping You to Remember

Karen Nikos-Rose wrote . . . . . . . . .

If you have watched TV since the ’90s, the sitcom theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” has likely been stuck in your head at one point or another. New research from UC Davis suggests these experiences are more than a passing nuisance — they play an important role in helping memories form, not only for the song, but also related life events like hanging out with friends — or watching other people hang with their friends on the ’90s television show, Friends.

“Scientists have known for some time that music evokes autobiographical memories, and that those are among the emotional experiences with music that people cherish most,” said Petr Janata, UC Davis professor of psychology and co-author on a new study.

What hasn’t been understood to date is how those memories form in the first place and how they become so durable, such that just hearing a bit of a song can trigger vivid remembering. — Petr Janata

The paper, “Spontaneous Mental Replay of Music Improves Memory for Incidentally Associated Event Knowledge,” was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Co-authors are Janata and Benjamin Kubit, a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience, both of the UC Davis Department of Psychology, and Center for Mind and Brain.

This new research offers an initial glimpse into these mechanisms and, somewhat surprisingly, finds that the songs that get stuck in your head help that process of strengthening memories as they first form, the authors said. Thus, this is the first research to link two of the most common phenomena people experience with music — earworms (having a song stuck in your head) and music-evoked remembering.

For their latest study, the researchers worked with 25 to 31 different people in each of three experiments, over three different days, spaced weeks apart. Subjects first listened to unfamiliar music, and then, a week later, listened to the music again, this time paired with likewise unfamiliar movie clips. In one instance, movies were played without music. The research subjects, all UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students, were subsequently asked to remember as many details as they could from each movie as the music played. They were also quizzed about their recollection of the associated tunes and how often they experienced each of the tunes as an earworm. None of them had formal music training.

Repetition and accuracy

The results: the more often a tune played in a person’s head, the more accurate the memory for the tune became and, critically, the more details the person remembered from the specific section of the movie with which the tune was paired.

With only one week between when they saw the movie, and when they were asked to remember as many details from the movie as they could while listening to the movie soundtrack, the effect of repeatedly experiencing a tune from the soundtrack as an earworm resulted in near-perfect retention of the movie details. These people’s memories, in fact, were as good as when they had first seen the movie. Additionally, most subjects were able to report what they were typically doing when their earworms occurred, and none of them mentioned the associated movies coming to mind at those times.

“Our paper shows that even if you are playing that song in your mind and not pulling up details of memories explicitly, that is still going to help solidify those memories,” Janata said.

“We typically think of earworms as random nuisance beyond our control, but our results show that earworms are a naturally occurring memory process that helps preserve recent experiences in long-term memory,” Kubit said.

The authors said they hope the research, which is ongoing, could eventually lead to the development of nonpharmaceutical, music-based interventions to help people suffering from dementia and other neurological disorders to better remember events, people and daily tasks.

Source: UC Davis

How SoundScan Changed Everything We Knew About Popular Music

Rob Harvilla wrote . . . . . . . . .

Thirty years ago, Billboard changed the way it tabulated its charts, turning the industry on its head and making room for genres once considered afterthoughts to explode in the national consciousness

Elton John twice. Stevie Wonder. Bruce Springsteen. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. That’s it. The weekly Billboard album chart—launched in 1956 as Best Selling Pop Albums with Harry Belafonte on top, and known today as The Billboard 200—logged exactly six no. 1 debuts in the first 35 years of its existence. “The list is so famous, I can rattle them off off the top of my head,” says writer, podcaster, and consummate chart guru Chris Molanphy.

And then he does. Sir Elton’s two albums from 1975, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and Rock of the Westies. Wonder’s immaculate Songs in the Key of Life in 1976. The Springsteen box set Live 1975–85, a five-vinyl-album behemoth released in ’86. Houston’s second album, Whitney, in 1987, and later that year, MJ’s Bad. (No, not 1982’s all-universe Thriller, which debuted at no. 11 nearly a month after release and took 10 more weeks to finally beat out the Stray Cats and Men at Work for the top spot.) “All mega, mega superstars,” Molanphy says. “Not just superstars. Mega, imperial superstars at the absolute height of their imperiality, right?”

Right. The seventh album ever to debut at no. 1 on the Billboard album chart was Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind.

No, not the Skid Row album with “18 and Life” and “I Remember You” on it: That would be 1989’s Skid Row, which peaked at no. 6 in its 33rd week. Slave to the Grind, the New Jersey hair-metal band’s 1991 effort, cracked the no. 1 debut pantheon for Chart Reasons, not Rock Reasons. (The cowbell action on lead single “Monkey Business” holds up, though.) On May 25, 1991—30 years ago Tuesday—Billboard started using Nielsen SoundScan data to build its album chart, with all of its charts, including singles hub The Hot 100, eventually following suit. Meaning, the magazine started counting album sales with scanners and computers and whatnot, and not just calling up record stores one at a time and asking them for their individual counts, often a manual and semi-accurate and flagrantly corrupt process. This is the record industry’s Moneyball moment, its Eureka moment, its B.C.-to-A.D. moment. A light bulb flipping on. The sun rising. We still call this the SoundScan Era because by comparison the previous era might as well have been the Dark Ages.

First SoundScan revelation: Albums opened like movies, so for anything with an established fan base, that first week is usually, by far, the biggest. First beneficiary: Skid Row. And why not? “Is Skid Row at the height of their imperial period?” Molanphy asks of this ’91 moment. “For Skid Row, yes. But Skid Row is not Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, or Stevie Wonder. Skid Row is a middle-of-the-road hair-metal band at the peak of their powers, relatively speaking. So it’s not as if they are commanding the field. It’s just the fans all showed up in week no. 1, and it debuts at no. 1. And then we discover, ‘Oh, this is going to happen every week. This is not special anymore.’”

Next SoundScan revelation: Hard rock and heavy metal were way more popular than anybody thought. Same deal with alternative rock, R&B, and most vitally, rap and country. In June 1991, N.W.A’s second album, Efil4zaggin, hit no. 1 after debuting at no. 2 the previous week. That September, Garth Brooks’s third album, the eventually 14-times-platinum Ropin’ the Wind, debuted at no. 1, the week after Metallica’s eventually 16-times-platinum self-titled Black Album debuted there. In early January 1992, Nirvana’s Nevermind, released in September ’91, replaced MJ’s Dangerous in the no. 1 spot, a generational bellwether described at the time by Billboard itself as an “astonishing palace coup.”

Virtually overnight, SoundScan changed the rules on who got to be a mega, mega superstar, and the domino effect—in terms of magazine covers, TV bookings, arena tours, and the other spoils of media attention and music-industry adulation—was tremendous, if sometimes maddeningly slow in coming. Garth, Metallica, N.W.A, Nirvana, and Skid Row were already hugely popular, of course. But SoundScan revealed exactly how popular, which of course made all those imperial artists exponentially more popular.

The methodology involved—cash registers, bar-code scanners, and a national database that on launch day didn’t even include industry powerhouse Tower Records yet—is painfully mundane by 2021 standards. But the tools of revolution often are. “The old chart couldn’t begin to touch the democracy of this chart,” Timothy White, then Billboard’s editor in chief, told The New York Times in January ’92. “There’s no question,” he added, “that our old system was subject to manipulation, and that people abused it.”

Which does not make the pre-SoundScan era an entirely corrupt free-for-all. “There had never been that amount of transparency, to put it bluntly, in the music business before,” Molanphy says. “The music business operated in such murk. And it’s funny. I hear you snicker when I say that, and you should. But one point I often make when I tell the story of SoundScan is there’s a piece of this story that is ‘Oh, the corrupt old record business. Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. Payola, payola, payola,’ et cetera. There’s another part of this story that is simply ‘We didn’t have the technology for it to be any better prior to 1991.’ We truly didn’t.”

But in 1991: Let there be light. And Skid Row. And Garth Brooks, again and again. And Paula Abdul. And Van Halen. And Billy Ray Cyrus. And Ice Cube, whose 1992 album The Predator debuted at no. 1, just beating out Whitney Houston’s Bodyguard soundtrack, which went on to make a little noise of its own. But Cube was an early indication of rap music’s near-total takeover of the record industry. You could say that SoundScan saw these various genre revolutions coming. Or you could say that SoundScan, and virtually every chart improvement Billboard would make going forward, helped everyone see that those revolutions had already happened.

The music business is forever a back-alley crapshoot at heart, but everyone in the early ’90s was really guessing, whether they’d cop to it or not. “I remember well when the Nirvana album exploded,” says Billboard reporter Ed Christman, a three-decade veteran of the magazine who was there for the dawn of the SoundScan era. “That was an amazing thing. Everybody was scrambling to keep the record in stock.”

Because it turns out even Geffen Records, the major label that brought you Nevermind, was guessing, even with Nevermind itself. “They didn’t produce enough of it because they thought it was going to be a slow mover,” Christman says. “Matter of fact, I remember I was at a Musicland convention, and they did a product presentation, and they didn’t include Nirvana in the presentation. I went up to the [Geffen] head of sales, Eddie Gilreath, and I said, ‘What are you doing? That Nirvana album is freaking amazing.’ And he said, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a slow burner. We’re going to build that. But yeah, that’s a great record. We’re gonna really get behind that.’ And then I see him about a month later after it had blown up, and he said, ‘Ha, I told you! I told you it was gonna blow up!’

[ . . . . . . . ]

Read more at the Ringer . . . . .

Does Listening to Calming Music at Bedtime Actually Help You Sleep?

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found that listening to music can help older adults sleep better.

Researchers from the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Taiwan combined the results of past studies to understand the effect that listening to music can have on the quality of older adults’ sleep. Their work suggests that:

  • Older adults (ages 60 and up) living at home sleep better when they listen to music for 30 minutes to one hour at bedtime.
  • Calm music improves older adults’ sleep quality better than rhythmic music does.
  • Older adults should listen to music for more than four weeks to see the most benefit from listening to music.

Why Older Adults Have Trouble Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

As we age, our sleep cycles change and make a good night’s sleep harder to achieve. What does it really mean to get a good night’s sleep? If you wake up rested and ready to start your day, you probably slept deeply the night before. But if you’re tired during the day, need coffee to keep you going, or wake up several times during the night, you may not be getting the deep sleep you need. According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

But studies have shown that 40 to 70 percent of older adults have sleep problems and over 40 percent have insomnia, meaning they wake up often during the night or too early in the morning. Sleep problems can make you feel irritable and depressed, can cause memory problems, and can even lead to falls or accidents.

How the Researchers Studied the Effect of Music on Older Adults’ Quality of Sleep

For their study, the researchers searched for past studies that tested the effect of listening to music on older adults with sleep problems who live at home. They looked at five studies with 288 participants. Half of these people listened to music; the other half got the usual or no treatment for their sleep problems. People who were treated with music listened to either calming or rhythmic music for 30 minutes to one hour, over a period ranging from two days to three months. (Calming music has slow tempo of 60 to 80 beats per minute and a smooth melody, while rhythmic music is faster and louder.) All participants answered questions about how well they thought they were sleeping. Each participant ended up with a score between 0 and 21 for the quality of their sleep.

The researchers looked at the difference in average scores for:

  • people who listened to music compared to people who did not listen to music;
  • people who listened to calm music compared to people who listened to rhythmic music;
  • and people who listened to music for less than four weeks compared to people who listened to music for more than four weeks.

What the Researchers Learned

Listening to calming music at bedtime improved sleep quality in older adults, and calming music was much better at improving sleep quality than rhythmic music. The researchers said that calming music may improve sleep by slowing your heart rate and breathing, and lowering your blood pressure.[3] This, in turn helps lower your levels of stress and anxiety.

Researchers also learned that listening to music for longer than four weeks is better at improving sleep quality than listening to music for a shorter length of time.

Limits of the Study

  • Researchers only looked at studies published in English and Chinese, meaning they may have missed studies in other languages on the effect of listening to music on sleep in older adults.
  • Results may not apply to older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
  • In the studies researchers used, people who listened to music received more attention from researchers than did people who got standard or no treatment for their sleep problems. This means that sleep improvements in the music therapy group could be due to that extra attention.
  • Since the different studies used different kinds of music, researchers could not single out which type of calming music improved sleep the most.
  • All of the people in the study had similar kinds of sleep problems. This means listening to music may not help people with other kinds of sleep problems.

What this Study Means for You

If you’re having trouble sleeping, listening to music can be a safe, effective, and easy way to help you fall and stay asleep. It may also reduce your need for medication to help you sleep.

Source: Health in Aging

The Best Kind of Music for Improving Your Work Productivity

Amy Morin wrote . . . . . . . . .

If you struggle to be productive while working from home, you’re not alone. Staring at a laptop in silence makes it harder to stay on task than you might think.

In the absence of coworkers, you might turn down the rabbit hole of social media for a little human interaction, where scrolling can easily waste countless hours of your time. Or maybe you turn on the TV for a little background noise only to find yourself engrossed in a talk show for a solid hour.

So while silence can be problematic, filling the void can be a distraction. Fortunately, turning on a little background music might be the solution to improving your productivity.

But not just any music will do. Listen to the songs that help you feel happy, and you’ll get more work done in less time.

The link between music, happiness, and performance

Music is a great tool for regulating your emotions. The songs you listen to have the power to boost your mood, calm you down, or pump you up.

That’s why music became a lifeline for so many people during the COVID pandemic. Our recent survey at Verywell Mind found that 79% of people turned to music to cope with the stress of the pandemic. (Many of them were likely working from home.)

It makes sense that so many people rely on music to regulate their emotions. Research has also discovered that intentionally listening to happy music can have a profound impact on your happiness level. A 2012 study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to happy music became happier people within just two weeks.

And it’s no secret that happy people are productive people. Researchers have long since known this. In fact, a 2019 study conducted by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School set out to study how much happiness matters. They discovered that happy people tend to be 13% more productive.

So it makes sense that listening to happy music makes you happy. And when you feel happy, you work better. But that’s not the end of the story.

Listening to music while you’re focused on something else (like writing a report) might also improve your performance. A 2014 study found that listening to upbeat background music improved the brain’s processing speed and bolstered memory in older adults.

And while both upbeat and downbeat music showed memory benefits, processing speed improvements were only present when people listened to upbeat music. So this reinforces the idea that happy songs could be the key to enhanced performance.

Happy music is tough to find

You’ll likely find it’s easy to recall plenty of songs with sad melodies and angry lyrics. But spend a minute trying to recall happy songs, and you might draw a blank. That’s because upbeat songs are in short supply.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies found that music lyrics have become increasingly sad and angry over the past 50 years. And listening to sad or angry music may have a negative impact on your mood or performance.

So it’s important to be intentional about the music you play while you work. Commit to listening to upbeat music so you can be more productive.

A happy playlist

Rather than spend hours looking for upbeat songs — we thought we’d supply you with a great playlist that might help you feel happier and make you more productive right away.

While my expertise is in helping people feel happier, song recommendations are a bit outside my wheelhouse. Fortunately, however, I have a resident expert on staff.

The producer of The Verywell Mind Podcast, Nick Valentin, is an amazing audio engineer. When he’s not working with me, he records musicians like Pharrell Williams, Marc Anthony, and Sean Combs (a.k.a Puff Daddy or Diddy). So I asked for his input on the happiest songs he knows. (And it just so happens that he even worked on the album that tops our list.)

Here are 10 songs that can make you feel happier and be more productive when you’re working from home:

  1. “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
  2. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
  3. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Bronson and Bruno Mars
  4. “ABC” by The Jackson 5
  5. “O-o-h Child” by The Five Stairsteps
  6. “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
  7. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown
  8. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
  9. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
  10. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Turn on the background music

Experiment a bit with background music to figure out what helps you stay most productive. You might find listening to the same song over and over again actually helps you stay on task best. Or you might discover upbeat, instrumental music helps you stay focused.

Try a few experiments, and you’ll learn how to use background music to your advantage when you’re working from home.

Source : Business Insider

Music Video: How Daily Singing Prolongs Your Life

The Positive Benefits of Music for People with Dementia

Just before 1 p.m. on a sunny Friday afternoon in February, two dozen members of a band in Southern California log on to Zoom. As people join the meeting, Zoom panels flicker to life on the screen, forming a grid of smiling faces, bandmates wave excitedly to one another. All of them hold instruments—some real, like drumsticks and maracas, and others makeshift, such as kitchen tongs, pot lids, metal spoons, and a cutting board. Promptly at 1 o’clock, Carol Rosenstein, the group’s leader and co-founder, calls the rehearsal to order.

The band, known as the Fifth Dementia, is unique for a variety of reasons. Its members have vastly different backgrounds and music abilities. Some of them have been with the group since it started in 2014, while others have belonged for just a few weeks. Some members are talkative while others can hardly speak. What they have in common, however, is this: Each person either has a neurodegenerative disease or is a caregiver for somebody with one.

Three times a week the band comes together to sing and socialize. Those activities, along with playing instruments, help the group members because they trigger the brain to release mood-elevating neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. A music therapist, Laura Mui, directs each rehearsal; this February session also includes a special guest, John Fitzgerald, who leads everyone in a rhythm exercise to get them warmed up.

After Rosenstein’s introduction, Mui asks members to open and close their hands to the beat of her metronome. She segues into a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” on guitar before handing the group off to Fitzgerald, who taps out a beat with his drumsticks and invites the others to follow along at home. People in the group hold their instruments up to the screen and shake out a rhythm. “My bottles of Parkinson’s medication make great maracas!” shouts one of them.

For the next hour, the band members play their instruments, sing folk songs, and share how each song or rhythm made their bodies feel. At 2 p.m., Rosenstein, 75, wishes everyone a safe and happy weekend and closes with the song “What a Wonderful World.”

Before the Fifth Dementia moved to a virtual platform in March 2020 because of COVID-19, its members met up to rehearse in a Presbyterian church in Brentwood, CA. Rosenstein founded the band after her husband, Irwin, who’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2006, developed dementia. She was looking for nonpharmaceutical ways to alleviate some of his symptoms, such as his “stony-faced stare” and agitation. Irwin had played saxophone and piano in college, so Rosenstein thought music might help.

“After just 10 minutes of playing piano, he’d resurrect, like a thirsty plant after a drink of water,” says Rosenstein. When she reported this to her husband’s neurologist, he told her that music had the ability to “change brain chemistry,” she recalls. That was just the spark she needed to find others affected by neurodegenerative disease and bring music to them as well.

Rosenstein says that her work with the Fifth Dementia and its umbrella organization, Music Mends Minds, has been her biggest consolation during the COVID-19 crisis. Irwin, a former attorney for the Federal National Mortgage Association, started declining significantly after 2018. Soon he could no longer walk or talk and mostly lived in his own world. In January 2021, he died from complications of COVID-19 at age 84. The Rosensteins had been married for 35 years.

Carol remembers the first meeting of the musical group she formed for her husband, which was held at a local music school. “Four souls gravitated to the Steinway piano in the middle of the room. There was a drum kit next to the piano and a myriad of instruments in students’ cubbies nearby,” she says. “Irwin grabbed a saxophone, someone produced a harmonica from his shirt pocket, and they started to play. That was the moment they became the core of the Fifth Dementia, which paved the way for Music Mends Minds.”

Today, the global nonprofit educates people about the benefits of music and fosters a community through musical support groups. In addition to the Fifth Dementia, Music Mends Minds has helped create 20 other bands for people with neurodegenerative diseases, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and posttraumatic stress disorder (and their caregivers). The bands boast hundreds of members worldwide. “We accept them on key or off key,” Rosenstein says.

Music as Medicine

The notion that music is good for the brain is supported by research, says Alex Pantelyat, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “There have been several studies and large reviews in the last several decades that suggest music can have a lot of positive benefits for people with dementia,” he says. “It’s not going to reverse the course of the disease, but it can relieve symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and it can facilitate meaningful changes in the trajectory of the condition.”

A study involving 25,000 nursing home residents with dementia, which was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2017, found that those who took part in an individualized music therapy program over a six-month period had fewer behavioral problems, such as agitation. Many of the people in the study were also able to discontinue their antianxiety and antipsychotic medications.

Music also may have an indirect yet positive effect on neurodegeneration in people with Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Pantelyat says. “There’s good evidence that moderate aerobic exercise three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes will help slow progression of the disease, but how do you motivate people to exercise when the lack of dopamine in their brains makes them less motivated to do anything?” One answer is music—it may inspire them to exercise or take part in other beneficial activities like physical therapy or speech therapy.

The socializing that’s done in these musical ensembles is advantageous too, says Dr. Pantelyat. Many people with Parkinson’s disease are isolated because of either physical limitations or a lack of confidence in their ability to speak or remember. On top of that, they may be apathetic due to a loss of dopamine and unmotivated to socialize. But playing in a band allows them to be around others who can relate to their situations.

A Boon to Caregivers

Jan Parker and her husband, Eric, 79, who has dementia, joined Tunes for the Memories, a band formed in Palm Desert, CA, that’s part of Music Mends Minds, shortly before the pandemic started and seldom miss a rehearsal. “We are both really open to doing whatever we can,” Jan, 74, says. “If you give up, that’s when deterioration really sets in, and we want to keep ourselves as healthy as we can for as long as we can.”

When asked if he thinks making music with the band has improved his life, Eric chimes in with a resounding “You betcha!”

Other couples have told Rosenstein they consider the regular one-hour rehearsals three times a week a “blessing” and a nice break for the spouse who is a caregiver, a job that can be lonely and difficult at times. Members agree that connecting with others during the video calls has been fun and rewarding.

After the death of her husband and especially in the midst of the pandemic, Rosenstein is more determined than ever to help people with neurodegenerative disease make music.

Source: Brain ans Life

Study: Music Can Speed Your Way to Sleep – Lullaby Effect

Cara Murez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Music hath charms to soothe you off to slumber, new research suggests.

The study found that calming tunes at bedtime seem to help older people struggling with insomnia.

“We found music therapy was effective for older adults with sleep disturbance,” said study co-author Yen-Chin Chen, an associate professor of nursing at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan.

That’s one of three takeaways from the study.

“Second, listening to sedative music is more effective than listening to rhythmic music,” Chen said. “And listening to music for longer than four weeks is more effective for older adults with sleep disturbance.”

Getting enough sleep can improve a person’s thinking and memory function, as well as energy levels, Chen said.

The findings were published online April 20 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study authors noted that adults aged 60 and up appear to sleep better when they listen to music for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, and that they see the greatest benefit by trying tunes for at least a month.

For the review, the researchers looked at five studies with 288 participants.

About half of the participants listened to bedtime music. The rest either had other treatments for their sleep problems or none at all. The research compared different treatments to music, and rhythmic music to calming music.

Listening to calming music, which has a slower tempo and smoother melody, resulted in better sleep, the investigators found. By slowing your heart rate and breathing, and lowering your blood pressure, calming music can lower your stress and anxiety, the researchers theorized.

Older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

About 40% to 70% of older adults have sleep problems, and about 40% experience insomnia, waking often during the night or too early in the morning, the study authors noted in the report.

Sleep problems can contribute to irritability and depression, cause memory problems, and lead to falls and accidents.

Dr. Alayne Markland, an associate professor of medicine in the division of gerontology, geriatrics, and palliative care at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, reviewed the findings.

“I think this is novel work,” she said, adding that more work remains, especially with older adults who have thinking and memory issues. The study did not include people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or other neurologic conditions.

“This could be a good thing to try — we just don’t have that data,” Markland said. Music could be a very effective sleep aid for some folks, as long as they don’t leave it on all night long, she added.

Sleep is an important driver of metabolism, activity levels, social interaction and mental health for seniors, so getting recommended amounts is important, Markland stressed.

It’s hard to say based on these findings alone who might be better suited to other strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) with a trained professional, Markland said. CBTI can target behaviors around falling asleep and staying asleep.

According to a research summary from the American Geriatrics Society, one limitation of the study was that people who listened to music received more attention from researchers, which could be why their sleep improved. Also, all of the study participants had similar sleep problems, so this music strategy many not help folks who are struggling with sleep for other reasons.

Dr. Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in California, noted that most older people who are healthy don’t have any sleep issues at all. Some have poor sleep as a result of other medical conditions, he added.

For example, someone with cataracts may sleep poorly because less light goes into their eyes, which can influence their sleep-wake cycles, he explained. Menopause, depression, sleep apnea, thyroid issues or iron deficiency can also cause sleep issues.

And over time, poor sleep can become a habit, Pelayo pointed out.

People who experience chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder have particular sleep challenges, but there are tools to help with even those sleep issues, according to Pelayo.

“There are many reasons an older person may sleep poorly,” he said. “Having said that, most of the conditions will improve when addressed correctly.”

Pelayo sees the greatest potential for music as a sleep aid in those whose sleep issues are stress-related. The predictability of music can help these folks get into the right state of mind and promote serenity, he said.

“People should go to bed, feeling safe, comfortable and loved. That’s the state of mind you want to be in: safe, comfortable and loved,” Pelayo said. “That’s how our children sleep and that’s what we hope to provide our kids and you need to provide for yourself. If you go to bed thinking ‘How bad will it be tonight?’ that will make you sleep lighter.”

Source: HealthDay

Calming Us Down or Revving Us Up, Music Can be Good for the Heart

Michael Precker wrote . . . . . . . . .

Stuck in traffic, with a nasty storm making a stressful commute even worse, Joanne Loewy reached for the car radio.

“I felt my heartbeat rise,” said Loewy, director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City. “So I switched to the Bach cello suite in my ‘traffic burden’ playlist. I just … said, ‘I’m not going to worry. I’m just going to breathe and release it all.'”

At the other end of the metronome, Dr. David Alter, who studies the use of music in promoting cardiac health, uses the Rolling Stones to help him power through a workout.

“It’s almost like a medicine,” said Alter, a cardiologist at University Health Network in Toronto, and a senior scientist at its KITE Research Institute. “Our research, recently published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, has shown that music can distract us from the pain of exercise. That’s why we may be able to exercise longer or more intensively with music.”

Such is the therapeutic power of music. Even in ancient times, Greek physicians used flutes and stringed instruments for healing. Today, researchers are still sorting out the health benefits.

“There is an overall perception that music does us good,” Alter said. “But we need to prove it scientifically. I do think we’re getting more rigorous in our scientific approach.”

Recent studies underscore the point. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery showed music therapy eased pain, anxiety and depression among people recovering from coronary bypass surgery.

Similarly, people with episodes of chest pain soon after a heart attack who listened to music for 30 minutes a day over seven years reported less anxiety and chest pain – and had a lower rate of cardiac death – than those who did not. Those preliminary findings were released last March at the American College of Cardiology’s virtual conference.

A 2018 study in Scientific Reports even suggests music therapy could make high blood pressure medication more effective.

In general, Alter said, there are two schools of thought about why music is effective.

“One says the music itself can stimulate all the healthy hormones and body functions to lower blood pressure and improve heart rates,” he said. “But the other school of thought says it’s really the behaviors we’re doing that are helping our heart, and music is just helping us improve those behaviors.”

The latter argument, Alter said, is especially true for one of the most important things people can do for their heart: exercise.

“We know that exercise is a game changer in terms of survival, longevity and quality of life,” he said. “I don’t think those are governed directly by the music, but music can help us with those healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors, and they improve our heart function.”

The rhythms of music, Loewy said, can influence breathing, which also affects heart function. Besides the benefits of lowering stress, she said, “breathing and heart rates go hand in hand. We know if we can slow the pulmonary function and have stronger inhalations where more oxygen is absorbed in the blood, we’ll have better cardiac outcomes.”

The clear conclusion, Loewy said, is music should be part of everyone’s health plan. Her center serves people of all ages and many conditions, from developmentally delayed children to young people with emotional issues and adults with chronic illnesses.

“Every person may benefit from a different kind of music based on their culture, their past history, their genes and their resilience,” she said. “A music therapist can help figure out what is healthiest for you.”

Even without consulting a professional, healthy people can put music to work for them every day – and night. Find the right accompaniment to charge up a workout, then play a more soothing tune to ease into a good night’s sleep.

“I like Eminem, but it activates me. So, I know I shouldn’t be listening to that before I go to sleep,” said Loewy, who suggests turning off TVs and devices an hour before bedtime. “Find some music that relaxes you.”

Source: American Heart Association