How Music Affects the Brain and How You Can Use It to Your Advantage
Reblogged from: Derren Brown Blog
“Music can often make or break a day. It can change your mood, amp you up for exercise, and help you recover from injury. But how does it work exactly, and how can you use it to your advantage?
Recently, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords used music therapy to help her learn to talk again. The still unproven theory revolves around the idea that music is represented in multiple parts of the brain and therefore accesses deeper pathways between neurons. Music then helps patients connect the stored knowledge of words through songs and helps create the new connections needed for speech. This same idea has been used for stroke victims in the past, and has been referred to as the Kenny Rogers Effect.
You don’t need to have suffer from brain damage to get the benefits though, lets take a look at how music affects the brain in a more casual sense, and how you can use it to enhance your day-to-day.
You might remember reports back in the 1990s that said that studying while listening to Mozart increases the likelihood of performing well on a test, but that has been disproven in some studies, and in turn, studies have shown some music has a negative affect on fact retention if you’re studying numbers or lists. Still, performing music has been proven to increase memory and language skills, but for listeners, it’s better used as a means to recall memories. It has been shown in Alzheimer’s patients to help with memory recall, and even restore cognitive function. It works for Alzheimer’s patients in the same way it works in everyone else.
When you listen to music you know, it stimulates the hippocampus, which handles long-term storage in the brain. Doing so can also bring out relevant memories you made while listening to a particular song. So, even though the Mozart-effect has essentially been disproven, the idea that forming a new memory with music, and then using the same music again later to recall the memory still appears to be a sound idea. If you’re having trouble remembering something, you might have better luck if you play the same music you were listening to when you first made the thought.”
- Simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory (nextbigfuture.com)
- World Science Festival: Reawakening the Brain through Music (danapress.typepad.com)
- Ancient Music Therapy Revived in Turkish Hospital (greenprophet.com)
- On Music, Dopamine, and Making Sense of Sound (sharpbrains.com)
- Music, a significant invention. (wordscover.me)
- Can Art Heal? (aurablog.org)
- For patients, a little music therapy goes a long way (foxnews.com)
- Music therapy: a key to unlocking the diseased brain. (babyboomersandmore.com)
- Music Therapy Gaining In Treatment for Medical Conditions (fox2now.com)
- How does Music Therapy Affect Our Health (musicnmoods.wordpress.com)
- Thesis Chapter 1 – Music Therapy and the Grief Process (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- Music: The Most Powerful Medicine in the World (metalstate.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Forget the Lyrics: Music and Memory (trishadm.wordpress.com)
- Critical Review – Is Music Therapy Useful in Stroke Rehabilitation? (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- Game Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Form Memories (escapistmagazine.com)
- Music changes your brain: Listen to a soothing song after an argument? (westallen.typepad.com)
Grief and Alzheimer’s — Anguish Over Multiple Losses : Huffingtonpost.com
From Huffingtonpost.com by Marie Marley (Author, Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy) 04/ 3/2012
When Ed, my soul mate of 30 years, developed Alzheimer’s, I sank deeper into despair each day. I thought a lot about grief related to loved ones with dementia. How you lose them little by little, but they are still there. I was thinking about how many years the grief may last before they finally die, and then another kind of grieving begins.
Death is typically a clear starting point for grief, and it’s clear that eventually there will be more or less an end to it. But with dementia, loss comes in bits and pieces and drags on and on for many years before the loved one even dies. It is understandable why I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of so many years of grieving.
1. Grief Over the Loss of the “Previous Person”
When a loved one is showing clear signs of dementia, that person begins to fade away, resulting in feelings of loss and despair. And there are so many losses over time. These may include things such as negative personality changes, not being able to have meaningful conversations, and, in many cases, the person with dementia not even recognizing loved ones.
This type of grief continues as a loved one declines little by little. It seems that every time a caregiver is able to come to terms with the person’s reduced level of functioning, they get even worse. One way to deal with these continuing losses is to learn to let go of the “previous person” and learn to love and cherish the new person just as he or she is. This process, which can be very difficult to master, must be repeated over and over as the disease advances.
My personal experience, as I describe it in Come Back Early Today was that I could reach Ed again when I began to interact with him as though he were a toddler. I took him little stuffed animals, which he absolutely loved. Then I started to play with him and the stuffed animals, and I invented other little games to play with him. We both enjoyed it immensely. My pain at losing the “old Ed” was significantly decreased as I saw how much joy I could bring to my “new Ed.”
2. Anticipatory Grief
Anticipatory grief is that which often occurs when one is expecting a person to die. It typically has the same symptoms as grief after any other death. To deal with this it can be helpful to try to shift your focus from the anticipated death of the person to trying to enjoy together the time that’s remaining. It’s important to try to think of all the ways you might be able to improve the person’s quality of remaining life.
3. Grief When the Person Finally Dies
Grief when a loved one with dementia dies can be more difficult than that for other types of death. One reason is because the caregiver has usually already been grieving the loss of the person for years. It’s difficult to endure the seemingly endless grief.
When a person with dementia dies, their loved ones typically experience the normal stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance, although these are not always experienced in the same order and not everyone goes through each stage. Some people get stuck in one stage, which can lead to complicated grief (see below).
Research shows that 72% of people who have a loved one with dementia are actually relieved when the person dies. This can lead to incredible feelings of guilt. It’s important to realize that feeling relief when a person with dementia passes away is normal and that there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.
I was able to work through my grief after Ed’s death in part by writing a book about my 30-year relationship with him, focusing primarily on the years when he was demented. The project started out as a way to remember Ed and honor our life together. But mid-way through the process, it became meaningful to me also as an exciting creative endeavor, helping me resolve my grief.
4. Complicated Grief
Complicated grief, also referred to as unresolved grief, is that which does not lessen with time, or is so intense it significantly interferes with one’s life. It may appear as major depression, lead to substance abuse, cause thoughts of suicide or take on the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It may also become chronic grief. Surprisingly, complicated grief may also manifest itself as a complete absence of mourning. Complicated grief usually requires professional help from a physician and/or psychotherapist.
5. Moving on
Grief must be fully experienced before you can move on. You need to allow yourself time to grieve. It’s important to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally during this time. It will also help to realize that with time your pain will lessen and you will be able to move on.
At some point — when you feel you’re ready — try to begin “returning to the world.” Take up a new hobby or go back to one that lapsed while you were caring for your loved one. Spend more time with the family members and friends you may have seen less in the preceding months or years. Some people also benefit from doing volunteer work.
Much to my surprise, one day I suddenly realized that I’d completely forgotten the third anniversary of Ed’s death, which was a month earlier. That’s when I knew my grief was largely resolved.
- Is Mourning Madness? (slate.com)
- “Am I Grieving Right?” (psychologytoday.com)
- Grief Is Normal And Not A Mental Illness, Medical Journal Editors Say (huffingtonpost.com)
Alzheimer’s and Music: “Conducting” an Emotional Visit to My Beloved, Demented Romanian Soul Mate
Repost from: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2012/01/alzheimers-and-music-conducting.html#more
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 2012
After this improvised “concert” I resolved to stop being upset that my “old Ed” was gone forever. I became determined to relate to him on whatever level I could. I rejoiced in the knowledge that I could make him happy.
By Marie Marley
Family caregivers and others caring for those with Alzheimer’s have long known that music is special to these individuals. It won’t stop or slow the progression of their disease, but it can be of significant benefit to them in many other ways.
Music has the power to reach Alzheimer’s patients on a deep level.
Many can sing songs, including most or even all of the lyrics, long after their dementia has progressed beyond the point of recognizing loved ones, dressing themselves, or even remembering what happened five minutes earlier.
Most importantly, however, music can have positive effects on the health and social functioning of Alzheimer’s patients. After listening to music some are clearly more calm, in a better mood and more outgoing than before, which improves the quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver.
Finally, music has actually been found to help those with dementia retrieve some memories their caregivers had assumed were lost forever.
My beloved 92-year-old Romanian soul mate, Ed, had been a university professor of French and a classical music lover. He loved orchestral music, especially that of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven.
He hated all forms of vocal music, however, and was always telling me he couldn’t stand to see singers on stage “with the open mouth.” Whenever he said that he opened his mouth wide and grossly mimicked an opera star hitting a really high note. I could never figure out how he thought they were supposed to emit sound without “the open mouth.”
At any rate, he’d always enjoyed watching conductors on TV, especially the flamboyant ones. The wilder they were, the more he loved watching them.
Being a former performer who had spent years playing in orchestras, I had tried to convince him that the flashy ones didn’t necessarily obtain any greater result from the players than the more sedate ones, but he never believed me.
When Ed became demented I was emotionally devastated, as are all caregivers at one point or another. My biggest sorrows was that I couldn’t find ways to have meaningful interactions with him. The worst part of it was that he had lost the ability to talk on the phone – something we’d previously done for hours every day.
In person visits weren’t much better. Although he was capable of light verbal exchanges, he wasn’t able to engage in the lively conversations we’d always had. Mostly he would deliver his two long monologues at every visit. They never varied. It was as though this demented man had actually memorized them.
One long monologue was full of praise about how beautiful I was; the other was about how lucky he was that I was visiting him.
I should have been delighted by all the affection and praise in these two monologues, but unfortunately I wasn’t. At that point I wasn’t able to accept his condition. I wanted to talk with him as we did before he became demented – not be simply talked to by him. Not be presented with the same material he repeated verbatim at every single visit.
I wanted my old Ed back. I wanted back the great man I had loved for over thirty years. The one who had been my rock. The man who had always supported me emotionally. Who had always there for me. The man with whom I talked for hours and with whom I laughed heartily during many of our conversations.
I couldn’t accept this new demented Ed with whom I had difficulty connecting, and who usually didn’t understand what I was telling him on the few occasions when I talked about what was going on in my life.
When I voiced my lament to my friends many of them suggested that I look at old photos with him, watch his favorite TV shows with him, or listen to music with him.
I had always assumed that listening to music with Ed would be boring for both of us, but one day I relented and decided to try it anyway since that particular day I couldn’t seem to reach him at all by any other means.
After trying to converse with him for a while and after listening to his two lovely but boring (to me) lengthy monologues, I put on a CD of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and started it at the last movement.
I was greatly surprised by his reaction. Almost immediately his eyes sparkled, his whole face beamed, he sat up straight, and moved in time with the music. It was a joy to see him come to life like that.
Then, for some reason I can’t explain, I began ‘conducting’ the music and I did it in the style of his previous favorite conductors. I conducted with both hands, arms flying around, sometimes in tandem, other times going in opposite directions. That made him really smile, which made me smile and encouraged me to keep going and become even showier.
I pretended I had a baton in my right hand, and cued each section of the orchestra when it was time for their entrances. My background in music helped me pull off this whole charade in a convincing and entirely accurate manner – not that Ed would have known the difference.
Ed continued smiling broadly and moving perfectly in time with the music, which really impressed me. Typically those days he couldn’t do anything remotely near perfect.
I stretched out both arms and bounced up and down on the balls of my feet when the music was loud, then crouched down and conducted in a tiny circumscribed area using only my right hand when the music was soft.
When the music was the most pianissimo, I put my left index finger up to my lips in a “shh . . .” gesture while my right hand continued conducting in small circles. He laughed out loud at these motions which, again, inspired me to continue.
I constantly shifted my gaze to the section of the orchestra that was playing the most prominent role at a given moment.
After the final chord I made a gigantic melodramatic cut off movement, remained completely immobile for a few seconds, then bowed deeply – first to the right, then center, then left.
Ed, who had been sitting in the rocking chair during this entire theatrical production, looked positively radiant. After my final bow he looked at me and said in a soft and almost reverent tone of voice, “What you did was so beautiful.”
It brought tears to my eyes. How wrong I had been. Listening to music with Ed had been anything but boring. It had opened up a new way of relating that was satisfying to both of us. It had brought him great joy and consequently brought me joy as well.
After this improvised “concert” I resolved to stop being upset that my “old Ed” was gone forever. I became determined to relate to him on whatever level I could. I rejoiced in the knowledge that I could make him happy. I could make him smile and laugh – things he hadn’t done for months.
Seeing his joy became enough for me, and I decided to continue these performances he loved so much. All of this confirmed what I should have realized all along – music can indeed reach demented people on a deep level.
I invite all of you share your own stories about using music with your Alzheimer’s loved ones.
- Alzheimer’s and Music: How a Classical Violinist Brought Great Joy to My Demented Romanian Soul Mate
- Music and Alzheimer’s Disease: Using Music to Engage, Comfort and Bring Joy to Your Loved Ones
Marie Marley, PhD, is a professional medical grant writer who, over the years, acquired a keen understanding of many geriatric topics, including dementia. . In Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy she describes her remarkable 30-year relationship with Edward Theodoru, PhD, a delightfully colorful yet wickedly eccentric Romanian gentleman – the love of her life. Learn more about their story at Come Back Early Today.
More Insight and Advice for Caregivers
- How Alzheimer’s Spreads Throughout the Brain
- Test Your Memory for Alzheimer’s (5 Best Self Assessment Tests)
- What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
- What is Dementia?
- What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
- Communicating in Alzheimer’s World
- How the Loss of Memory Works in Alzheimer’s Disease, and How Understanding This Could Help You
- Learning How to Communicate with Someone Suffering From Alzheimer’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s World — Trying to Reconnect with Someone Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease
- Does the Combination of Aricept and Namenda Help Slow the Rate of Decline in Alzheimer’s Patients
- About the Alzheimer’s Reading Room
Original content Marie Marley, the Alzheimer’s Reading Room
Reblog: November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Each year, November is dedicated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It is an especially significant time for me to reflect on how this disease has changed my life. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one struggle and eventually succumb to dementia is forever changed by this gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and incurable disease. By its very nature, Alzheimer’s will destroy you as it claims your loved one. It will chew you up and spit you out as you stand by, helpless to stop the progression and inevitable outcome.
The key to emerging from the devastation for me was to find acceptance by determining what I have learned from Alzheimer’s, and then to use that knowledge wisely, both to make me a better person and to help others when possible. I don’t wish Alzheimer’s on anyone, but I do continue to hope that what people find beyond the finality of Alzheimer’s will help them see more clearly and live more purposefully. This is what I have gained from my mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease.
Following are a few of the numerous events to be held in conjunction with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
October 31, 2011: Loving and Living with Alzheimer’s Disease
A photography exhibition recognizing the contributions of Alzheimer’s patients and their families will be open for public viewing from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the Russell Senate Rotunda, Capitol Visitor Center, Washington D.C. The photographs, taken by renowned photographer Judith Fox, chronicle her husband’s journey with the disease and provide a rare insight into caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Registration is required, see link.
November 13, 2011: National Commemorative Candling Lighting
To honor those who have been lost to the disease or currently live with the disease. I will light a candle in memory of my mother, and pray for all those who have fallen to this disease, as well as all those who have been affected by it – caregivers, family, and friends. Click on link to find a local ceremony near you.
November 15, 2011: National Memory Screening Day
If you suspect cognitive impairment, either for yourself or a loved one, early detection is key to pinpoint the exact problem and offer solutions and options as possible. Do it for yourself or a loved one if you suspect Alzheimer’s disease. Click on the link to find a memory screening in your community.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and an epidemic is predicted as baby boomers age over the next twenty years. November reminds us all to be aware . . . . . and to learn more . . . . we must find a cure.