A Week of Sound, Music and the Brain

Several months back a good friend Vera Brandes who is the head of music medicine research at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg sent me a link to an event happening at the university in our home town of Ogden, Utah. The event- The Interdisciplinary Society for Quantitative Research in Music and Medicine Inaugural Music  & Medicine Symposium.  I had heard nothing of the young organization or the event about to take place in my own backyard. I was embarrassed a friend in Austria had to bring it to my attention. It was hard to believe such an important event was being held in our field of music effects research, in Ogden, and we knew nothing of it!  

So…Once I got the news I contacted the organizer Dr. David Akombo, co-founder of the organization and Assistant Professor of Music at Weber State University. We arranged a meeting, and quickly found many synergies. In short order ABT became the main sponsor and David and I went to work to expand the one day symposium to a full week of events with a partnership between Advanced Brain Technologies, Weber State University and The Interdisciplinary Society for Quantitative Research in Music and Medicine.

A Week of Sound, Music and the Brain is Five Powerful Events in ONE!

June 2-6, 2011 some of the world leaders in music medicine research will gather in Ogden, Utah along with students, musicians, educators, healthcare providers, and others interested in music and the brain.

Event highlights:

June 2- Healing at the Speed of Sound™ Workshop. A Day with Don Campbell and myself, ABT Provider Forum, and ABT Open House.

June 3- ISQRMM Inaugural Music & Medicine Symposium. Keynote address by Mark Jude Tramo of  The Institute for Music & Brain Science, research papers presented by investigators from across the world, live music performances, and a workshop I will lead on music listening therapy.

June 4-6- TLP Provider Certification Course for healthcare, education and music professionals to certify to offer The Listening Program® and other ABT solutions to their clients and students.

This is going to be a life changing week for those who attend.

I hope you will join us and help spread the word! Please visit the event website to register online and learn more.

Music and the Brain: A Symposium with Integrated Live Performances

On October 30th the Cleveland Clinic Arts & Medicine Institute is presenting Music and the Brain: A Symposium with Integrated Live Performances in collaboration with Lincoln Center in New York, NY.

Neuroscience and music is an area that is finally beginning to get the attention it deserves. This symposium focuses on the relationship between music and the nervous system. It is aimed at educating physicians about this novel and unique field of “neuromusic” which studies the effect of music on the normal and abnormal physiology of the nervous system, treats certain neurological conditions using music as a therapeutic tool and treats the neurological consequences of misuse of music. It also aims at educating physicians about the status of research in the field of music and the brain.

I am attending the symposium, and one of my colleagues, Vera Brandes, will be presenting a talk on the chronobiological aspects on the use of music. Vera’s company Sanoson, focuses on the prescriptive use of music as a healing modality and designs custom music systems for medical facilities.  Those of you acquainted with my work are aware that my company Advanced Brain Technologies develops neurobased therapeutic music programs: so this conference is of great interest to me, especially since I have been co-writing a book on the topic with Don Campbell (The Mozart Effect) for the course of the past year.        

For more information or to register visit http://bit.ly/3cJwiz. If you attend please introduce yourself!

Study Demonstrates Effectiveness of The Listening Program® with Bone Conduction on Children with SPD

6 children who present with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and auditory processing concerns with ages ranging from 3 yrs 11 mo. to 8 yrs. 7 mo. 4 of whom were receiving therapy services participated in the study.  Results from standardized testing demonstrated a significant improvement in all children who completed the program, compared to just therapy alone. This demonstrated that The Listening Program® with bone conduction is effective in helping increase functional skills and outcomes in children who present with sensory integration and auditory processing concerns along with skilled therapists to help achieve maximum potential and independence in everyday tasks/skills.

This study was originally presented by John Esteves at the 2008 Advanced Brain Technologies International Conference in Midway, Utah, July 2008.  A summary is in the new book just published by Springer Vienna and New York,  edited by Roland Haas and Vera Brandes Music That Works: Contributions of Biology, Neurophysiology, Psychology, Sociology, Medicine and Musicology ISBN 978-3-211-75120-6  http://www.springer.com/springerwiennewyork/medicine/book/978-3-211-75120-6

 To read or download the full study please click here.

Therapeutic Power of Music

I just ran across an article published in Scotland on Sunday titled “Doctor Beat”. The author Janet Christie highlights some of the current research findings uncovering the therapeutic  power of music. Included within is a spotlight on the music research conducted by my friend and colleague Vera Brandes at the Paracelsus Private Medical University in Salzburg, Austria. Her study demonstrated clinically significant  improvements in heart-rate variability after patients followed a specific music program 2 x 30 minutes a day for five weeks. Heart-rate variability is an indicator of autonomic nervous system function.

Coincidently the article also highlights the story of young Ethan, a boy diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome who benefited from listening to our very own The Listening Program® method for 2 X15 minutes a day for eighteen months at his primary school in Midlothian, Scotland. His mother, Wendy Brooks shares “The music helped with his concentration and social skills, which is a huge thing when you’ve got Asperger’s. He used to get frustrated and upset really quickly but he became a lot calmer and it became easier to get through to him. He’s a maths whizz, so that became more focused too, because he can concentrate better. Before the program, he just wasn’t listening,” she says. “It has had a very powerful effect because he hasn’t been as difficult to deal with and his conversational skills are very good now. You’d never know how he was at three years old.”

While the article focuses on varied examples of the healing effects of music including music therapy, interestingly it concludes with a list of music that is reported to inflict pain and distress by military and law enforcement agencies. I would have never considered the theme of Sesame Street as torture, however I can see repeated exposure to the Bee Gees “Staying Alive” as being a detriment to my cognitive and emotional state. 

Read Article http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/spectrum/Doctor-beat.5162577.jp

The Musical Cure


Will music ever be prescribed as a remedy to treat or even cure chronic disease?  Perhaps, and recent research indicates we may be closer to the musical cure than previously thought imaginable.


We all recognize music has a salutary effect. Who hasn’t used a tune to relax, focus, or improve their mood? Our understanding of music is emerging. The wheat is separating from the chaff as we move beyond pseudoscientific claims of music effects, to clinical trials that demonstrate the benefits the right musical prescription may hold.


My colleague and dear friend Vera Brandes, is director of the research program in music and medicine at the Paracelsus Private Medical University in Salzburg, Austria. Vera has been principal in the charge to apply real scientific methods to music research. Today her efforts are featured in an article in The New York Times Composing Concertos In the Key of RX.


Article Excerpt

In a pilot study, which in 2008 received a citation at the annual scientific meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Baltimore, Ms. Brandes and international associates investigated the effects of music on patients suffering from hypertension for which no organic cause can be found.


“Conventionally hypertensive patients are treated with beta blockers, which suppress In their symptoms,” Ms. Brandes said. “Music can address the psychosomatic root causes.”


According to her study, listening to a specially designed music program for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for four weeks, patients experienced clinically significant improvements in heart-rate variability, a major indicator of autonomous nervous function. In her next study Ms. Brandes will subject these findings to a full-fledged clinical trial.


Read on Composing Concertos in the Key of Rx


The evidence that music is good for us will continue to expand and one day in the not so distant future you may have a music prescription written for you. Until then, keep listening and know music is good for more than your soul.


Addendum- Having read a comment on twitter and FriendFeed about this post let me be clear. MUSIC WORKS!!! I have spent 15 years researching and developing psychoacoustically based music programs. This post, and the article it is about is highlighting the fact that music research has reached a new level entirely!