The science behind music therapy; Learn more at Science Night


Many have seen the video on social media of 80-year-old Ted McDermott, the “Songaminute Man” from England and his son Simon, who cuts through Ted’s Alzheimer’s dementia with music. It seems that Simon can connect through music with his father — who was a singer earlier in life. Often, people assume that it’s merely because of an individual’s personal experience and long-term memory with music that they can reconnect and become more lucid when they hear music even though they may be in the midst of dementia. Yet, research is showing there is a scientific basis to brain functioning that helps explain music’s ability to connect with people living with dementia, even in later stages. . . . it’s not just about an individual’s experience with music earlier in life.

Local music therapist Kendra Carson, MA, MT-BC,  of Carson Music Services in Springboro, will show us how at our Nov. 8 Science Night “Biomarkers: The Art & Science of Dementia Diagnosis and Care.”  Click here to register for Science Night by Nov. 1.

Kendra has 15 years of experience in a range of long-term care settings for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other memory impairment issues. Music has been an effective tool in her treatment with clients.  She has led a variety of music therapy programs which include:  drum circles, bell choirs, reminiscence groups, and family music-making groups to name a few.  Her most personal work includes working with hospice teams to assist families and their loved one transition.

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“Listening to music and being involved in live music-making experiences empowers people to emerge from the isolation imposed by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” Kendra explains.

And now, neuroscientists equipped with brain scanning technology have a renewed interest in finding how music affects our neural circuits. Researchers in Finland using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) found that music listening engages not only the auditory areas of the brain, but also impacts large-scale neural networks. For instance, they discovered that processing musical pulse engages areas in the brain that impact movement and emotion. Research also suggests that music can help organize incoming information by engaging areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in memory. Further, research has shown that listening to music releases dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter that sends signals of pleasure to the body.

Music therapy is an allied health service similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy. “Music therapy consists of using music therapeutically to address physical, psychological, cognitive and/or social functioning. Because music therapy is a powerful and non-threatening medium, unique outcomes are possible,” Kendra says.

Don’t miss Kendra’s presentation at our Science Night Community Dinner. Register here by Nov. 1.

Science Night is offered through the generous support of Wayne & David Baller of the Baller Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.

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