Posts Tagged ‘music’

By Ian Hamilton

For centuries, musicians have used drugs to enhance creativity and listeners have used drugs to heighten the pleasure created by music. And the two riff off each other, endlessly. The relationship between drugs and music is also reflected in lyrics and in the way these lyrics were composed by musicians, some of whom were undoubtedly influenced by the copious amounts of heroin, cocaine and “reefer” they consumed, as their songs sometimes reveal.

Acid rock would never have happened without LSD, and house music, with its repetitive 4/4 beats, would have remained a niche musical taste if it wasn’t for the wide availability of MDMA (ecstasy, molly) in the 1980s and 1990s.

And don’t be fooled by country music’s wholesome name. Country songs make more references to drugs than any other genre of popular music, including hip hop.

Under the influence

As every toker knows, listening to music while high can make it sound better. Recent research, however, suggests that not all types of cannabis produce the desired effect. The balance between two key compounds in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiols, influence the desire for music and its pleasure. Cannabis users reported that they experienced greater pleasure from music when they used cannabis containing cannabidiols than when these compounds were absent.

Listening to music – without the influence of drugs – is rewarding, can reduce stress (depending upon the type of music listened to) and improve feelings of belonging to a social group. But research suggests that some drugs change the experience of listening to music.

Clinical studies that have administered LSD to human volunteers have found that the drug enhances music-evoked emotion, with volunteers more likely to report feelings of wonder, transcendence, power and tenderness. Brain imaging studies also suggest that taking LSD while listening to music, affects a part of the brain leading to an increase in musically inspired complex visual imagery.

Certain styles of music match the effects of certain drugs. Amphetamine, for example, is often matched with fast, repetitive music, as it provides stimulation, enabling people to dance quickly. MDMA’s (ecstasy) tendency to produce repetitive movement and feelings of pleasure through movement and dance is also well known.

An ecstasy user describes the experience of being at a rave:

“I understood why the stage lights were bright and flashing, and why trance music is repetitive; the music and the drug perfectly complemented one another. It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes and I could finally see what everyone else was seeing. It was wonderful.”

There is a rich representation of drugs in popular music, and although studies have shown higher levels of drug use in listeners of some genres of music, the relationship is complex. Drug representations may serve to normalise use for some listeners, but drugs and music are powerful ways of strengthening social bonds. They both provide an identity and a sense of connection between people. Music and drugs can bring together people in a political way, too, as the response to attempts to close down illegal raves showed.

People tend to form peer groups with those who share their own cultural preferences, which may be symbolised through interlinked musical and substance choices. Although there are some obvious synergies between some music and specific drugs, such as electronic dance music and ecstasy, other links have developed in less obvious ways. Drugs are one, often minor, component of a broader identity and an important means of distinguishing the group from others.

Although it is important not to assume causality and overstate the links between some musical genres and different types of drug use, information about preferences is useful in targeting and tailoring interventions, such as harm reduction initiatives, at music festivals.

https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/articles/music-and-drugs-scientists-explain-the-link-296886?utm_campaign=NEWSLETTER_TN_Neuroscience_2017&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=60340987&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–WbyIooqediqm4Mr6D09zjNCyCmjIe-6JF5OpygCiR3HaX93JSj3dyP1fGYyKLhvXSaI-EheJTPpuOIN_2UXpdsA4ewg&_hsmi=60340987

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An Australian study involving 1000 people has concluded that people who regularly go to concerts are happier with their lives overall than those who don’t. Basically, the survey reports that people who went to any sort of communal musical event said they were pretty satisfied with their lot, on a bigger scale than those who didn’t.

Officially, the study says that it “explores the connection between habitual music engagement and subjective wellbeing,” where ‘habitual music engagement’ might be anything from attending music festivals to just going to the club. The most important part of the experience, however, is supposedly the communal element, the part where you feel joy among others feeling joy, and essentially experience the best bit of being human.

https://noisey.vice.com/en_au/article/wjjywn/science-says-regularly-attending-concerts-makes-you-happier

Two simple mind-body practices improved cognition and helped reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with subjective cognitive decline, in a pilot study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers randomly assigned 60 older adults with subjective cognitive decline—a strong predictor of Alzheimer’s disease—to a program of either beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya) or music listening over 6 months. For the first 3 months, participants were directed to practice their intervention 12 minutes daily. For the remaining 3 months, participants were told to engage in their intervention at their discretion.

At 3 months, both the meditation and music listening groups showed marked and significant improvements in subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance, researchers found. What’s more, the substantial gains were maintained or improved at 6 months.

Brain Games Linked to Delayed Cognitive Decline in Elderly

“Findings of this preliminary randomized controlled trial suggest practice of meditation or music listening can significantly enhance both subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance in adults with subjective cognitive decline,” researchers concluded, “and may offer promise for improving outcomes in this population.”

Researchers had previously found that both interventions also improved sleep, mood, stress, well-being, and quality of life—with gains particularly pronounced in participants who practiced meditation. In that study, too, improvements were maintained or improved 3 months after baseline.

—Jolynn Tumolo

References

Innes KE, Selfe TK, Khalsa DS, Kandati S. Meditation and music improve memory and cognitive function in adults with subjective cognitive decline: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2017;56:899-916.

Meditation and music may help reverse early memory loss in adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease [press release]. Lansdale, PA: IOS Press; January 23, 2017.

The crew of an Apollo mission to the moon were so startled when they encountered strange music-like radio transmissions coming through their headsets, they didn’t know whether or not to report it to NASA, it’s been revealed.

It was 1969, two months before Apollo 11’s historic first manned landing on the moon, when Apollo 10 entered lunar orbit, which included traversing the far side of the moon when all spacecraft are out of radio contact with Earth for about an hour and nobody on Earth can see or hear them.

As far as the public knew, everything about the mission went smoothly.

Almost four decades went by before lost recordings emerged that revealed something unsettling that the three Apollo astronauts had experienced while flying above the far side of the moon.

The taped recordings contained “strange, otherworldly music coming through the Apollo module’s radio,” according to the upcoming Science Channel series, “NASA’s Unexplained Files.”

The conversation between the three astronauts indicated they heard sounds like they had never heard before:

“It sounds like, you know, outer space-type music.”

“You hear that? That whistling sound? Whooooooooo!”

“Well, that sure is weird music!”
The unexplained “music” transmission lasted almost an hour, and just before the astronauts regained radio contact with Earth, they discussed whether or not to tell Mission Control what they had experienced:

“It’s unbelievable! You know?”

“Shall we tell them about it?”

“I don’t know. We ought to think about it.”

“The Apollo 10 crew was very used to the kind of noise that they should be hearing. Logic tells me that if there was something recorded on there, then there was something there,” Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden says on the Science Channel program. “NASA would withhold information from the public if they thought it was in the public’s best interest.”

The transcripts of the Apollo 10 mission were classified and untouched in NASA’s archives until 2008, producing an ongoing debate as to the nature and origin of the strange sounds heard by the astronauts.

“You don’t hear about anything like that until years after the incident occurs, and then you kind of wonder, because it’s such an old memory of those things that you get concerned about if they were making something up or was there something really there? Because you never really know,” Worden told The Huffington Post.

“If you’re behind the moon and hear some weird noise on your radio, and you know you’re blocked from the Earth, then what could you possibly think?” Worden said.

“We’d had a lot of incidents where guys who flew in space saw and heard things that they didn’t recognize, and you wonder about all of that. I have a very open mind about what could’ve happened. It’s somebody’s hearsay evidence — it’s only a visual or audio event, which is hard to pin down. Recollection is one thing, but actual proof is something entirely different.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/apollo-10-astronauts-reported-unexplained-music-at-moon_us_56c80662e4b0928f5a6c0679

M.I.T. researchers Nancy Kanwisher, Josh H. McDermott and Sam Norman-Haignere have uncovered specific parts of the brain that are activated primarily by music — and not, say, human speech or ambient sound.

In fact, according to the findings they published in the journal Neuron, the circuits that “light up” to different kinds of sound are located in completely different parts of the auditory cortex.

n unpacking this groundbreaking study, M.I.T. News explains that by utilizing a new method working with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to identify six different neural population response patterns in 10 human subjects who were each played 165 sound clips. In summary, “one population responded most to music, another to speech, and the other four to different acoustic properties such as pitch and frequency.”

Dr. Horman-Haignere, the lead author of the findings, told the New York Times that, “the sound of a solo drummer, whistling, pop songs, rap, almost everything that has a musical quality to it, melodic or rhythmic” would activate the part of the auditory cortex called the sulcus, or major crevice.

Josef Rauschecker, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition at Georgetown University, praised the study, noting that “the idea that the brain gives specialized treatment to music recognition, that it regards music as fundamental a category as speech, is very exciting to me.

“There are theories that music is older than speech or language,” he added. “Some even argue that speech evolved from music.”

Though it’s still unclear what particular features of music are lighting up that part of the brain, the study proves something that we suspected all along: though we may not know how to describe what good music is, our bodies certainly know it when they hear it.

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6873880/music-brain-effect-scientists-mit-study

by Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC

As the search continues for effective drug treatments for dementia, patients and caregivers may find some measure of relief from a common, non-pharmaceutical source. Researchers have found that music-related memory appears to be exempt from the extent of memory impairment generally associated with dementia, and several studies report promising results for several different types of musical experiences across a variety of settings and formats.

“We can say that perception of music can be intact, even when explicit judgments and overt recognition have been lost,” Manuela Kerer, PhD, told Psychiatry Advisor. “We are convinced that there is a specialized memory system for music, which is distinct from other domains, like verbal or visual memory, and may be very resilient against Alzheimer’s disease.”

Kerer is a full-time musical composer with a doctoral degree in psychology who co-authored a study on the topic while working at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. She and her colleagues investigated explicit memory for music among ten patients with early-state Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and ten patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and compared their performance to that of 23 healthy participants. Not surprisingly, the patient group demonstrated worse performance on tasks involving verbal memory, but they did significantly better than controls on the music-perceptional tasks of detecting distorted tunes and judging timbre.

“The temporal brain structures necessary for verbal musical memory were mildly affected in our clinical patients, therefore attention might have shifted to the discrimination tasks which led to better results in this area,” she said. “Our results enhance the notion of an explicit memory for music that can be distinguished from other types of explicit memory — that means that memory for music could be spared in this patient group.”

Other findings suggest that music might even improve certain aspects of memory among people with dementia. In a randomized controlled trial published in last month in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, music coaching interventions improved multiple outcomes for both patients with dementia and their caregivers. The researchers divided 89 pairs of patients with dementia and their caregivers into three groups: two groups were assigned to caregiver-led interventions that involved either singing or listening to music, while a third group received standard care. Before and after the 10-week intervention, and six months after the intervention, participants were assessed on measures of mood, quality of life and neuropsychological functioning.

Results showed that the singing intervention improved working memory among patients with mild dementia and helped to preserve executive function and orientation among younger patients, and it also improved the well-being of caregivers. The listening intervention was found to have a positive impact on general cognition, working memory and quality of life, particularly among patients in institutional care with moderate dementia not caused by AD. Both interventions led to reductions in depression.

The findings suggest that “music has the power to improve mood and stimulate cognitive functions in dementia, most likely by engaging limbic and medial prefrontal brain regions, which are often preserved in the early stages of the illness,” study co-author Teppo Särkämö, PhD, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, Finland, told Psychiatry Advisor. “The results indicate that when used regularly, caregiver-implemented musical activities can be an important and easily applicable way to maintain the emotional and cognitive well-being of persons with dementia and also to reduce the psychological burden of family caregivers.”

Singing has also been shown to increase learning and retention of new verbal material in patients with AD, according to research published this year in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, and findings published in 2013 show that listening to familiar music improves the verbal narration of autobiographical memories in such patients. Another study found that a music intervention delivered in a group format reduced depression and delayed the deterioration of cognitive functions, especially short-term recall, in patients with mild and moderate dementia. Group-based music therapy appears to also decrease agitation among patients in all stages of dementia, as described in a systematic review published in 2014 in Nursing Times.

n addition to the effects of singing and listening to music on patients who already have dementia, playing a musical instrument may also offer some protection against the condition, according to a population-based twin study reported in 2014 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers at the University of Southern California found that older adults who played an instrument were 64% less likely than their non-musician twin to develop dementia or cognitive impairment.

“Playing an instrument is a unique activity in that it requires a wide array of brain regions and cognitive functions to work together simultaneously, throughout both the right and left hemispheres,” co-author Alison Balbag, PhD, told Psychiatry Advisor. While the study did not examine causal mechanisms, “playing an instrument may be a very effective and efficient way to engage the brain, possibly granting older musicians better maintained cognitive reserve and possibly providing compensatory abilities to mitigate age-related cognitive declines.”

She notes that clinicians might consider suggesting that patients incorporate music-making into their lives as a preventive activity, or encouraging them to keep it up if they already play an instrument.
Further research, particularly neuroimaging studies, is needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind the effects of music on dementia, but in the meantime it could be a helpful supplement to patients’ treatment plans. “Music has considerable potential and it should be introduced much more in rehabilitation and neuropsychological assessment,” Kerer said.

http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/alzheimers-disease-and-dementia/neurocognitive-neurodegenerative-memory-musical-alzheimers/article/452120/3/

References

Kerer M, Marksteiner J, Hinterhuber H, et al. Explicit (semantic) memory for music in patients with mild cognitive impairment and early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Experimental Aging Research; 2013; 39(5):536-64.

Särkämö T, Laitinen S, Numminen A, et al. Clinical and Demographic Factors Associated with the Cognitive and Emotional Efficacy of Regular Musical Activities in Dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease; 2015; published online ahead of print.

Palisson J, Roussel-Baclet C, Maillet D, et al. Music enhances verbal episodic memory in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology; 2015; 37(5):503-17.

El Haj M, Sylvain Clément, Luciano Fasotti, Philippe Allain. Effects of music on autobiographical verbal narration in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurolinguistics; 2013; 26(6): 691–700.

Chu H, Yang CY, Lin Y, et al. The impact of group music therapy on depression and cognition in elderly persons with dementia: a randomized controlled study. Biological Research for Nursing; 2014; 16(2):209-17.

Craig J. Music therapy to reduce agitation in dementia. Nursing Times; 2014; 110(32-33):12-5.
Balbag MA, Pedersen NL, Gatz M. Playing a Musical Instrument as a Protective Factor against Dementia and Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Twin Study. International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease; 2014; 2014: 836748.