Posts Tagged ‘music’

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.

by John Haltiwanger

As a musical genre, hip-hop is often denigrated for seemingly condoning misogyny, materialism, violence and crime. But this is an unfair characterization and an overgeneralization.

Yes, there are some rap artists who write songs containing nothing of substance. More often than not, however, hip-hop offers many of us an insightful view into a dark world we’re unfamiliar with: the impoverished inner city.

In this sense, hip-hop has the potential to educate and foster empathy.

To borrow from Jay Z:

I think that hip-hop has done more for racial relations than most cultural icons. Save Martin Luther King, because his dream speech we realized when President Obama got elected.

[Hip-hop] music didn’t only influence kids from urban areas. People listen to this music all around the world, and [they] took to this music.

Once you have people partying, dancing and singing along to the same music, then conversations naturally happen after that.

We all realize that we’re more alike than we’re separate.

Indeed, hip-hop breaches ostensibly impenetrable cultural divides, breeding solidarity among people with disparate backgrounds.

This is precisely why recent albums like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly have been widely celebrated and even used by high school teachers to teach lessons about race and oppression.

Beyond enlightening people on race, poverty, the War on Drugs and the inner city, it also appears hip-hop has a hidden benefit as a powerful tool against mental illness.

A study from Cambridge University found that hip-hop is extremely effective in combatting depression, bipolar disorder and addiction.

When you think about the themes hip-hop encompasses, this makes a lot of sense. Many artists rap about overcoming numerous obstacles in the ghetto, from gang violence and poverty to drugs and police brutality.

The overall narrative of hip-hop is one of progress. Artists tell dynamic stories of advancing from deeply oppressive environments to living out their wildest dreams.

Fundamentally, the message of hip-hop is one of hope.

Thus, hip-hop has the effect of “positive visual imagery,” helping people see the light when the whole world feels dark.

In other words, during bipolar episodes or periods of depression, listening to hip-hop can help people visualize or imagine a more positive place and where they’d like to be in the future. In turn, they arrive at a more secure mental state.

The study was conducted by neuroscientist Dr. Becky Inkster and psychiatrist Dr. Akeem Sule.

As Dr. Sule puts it:

Much of hip-hop comes from areas of great socioeconomic deprivation, so it’s inevitable that its lyrics will reflect the issues faced by people brought up in these areas, including poverty, marginalization, crime and drugs.

We can see in the lyrics many of the key risk factors for mental illness, from which it can be difficult to escape.

Hip-hop artists use their skills and talents not only to describe the world they see, but also as a means of breaking free.

We believe that hip-hop, with its rich, visual narrative style, can be used to make therapies that are more effective for specific populations and can help patients with depression to create more positive images of themselves, their situations and their future.

One of the prime examples utilized in the study is that of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” a hip-hop classic.

In the song, Biggie details his rise from deprivation on the harsh streets of Brooklyn to the covers of magazines and a life of affluence. It’s a song about making it against impossible odds.

There are so many other examples like this within the world of hip-hop. From Jay Z’s “On To The Next One” to the more recent Kendrick Lamar track, “i.”

Interestingly enough, not long ago, Lamar stated he penned the song as a form of encouragement and inspiration for prison inmates and suicidal teenagers:

I wrote a record for the homies that’s in the penitentiary right now, and I also wrote a record for these kids that come up to my shows with these slashes on they wrists, saying they don’t want to live no more.

Accordingly, it’s apparent some hip-hop artists are already deliberately attempting to help people with mental illness.

Regardless of the criticism it receives, hip-hop is a form of artistic expression with limitless educative and therapeutic potential.

The rapper Killer Mike has noted there is a commonly held view that hip-hop poses a threat or danger to society, but as he explains:

The kids spending hours per day writing rap songs aren’t a threat to society; they are often trying to escape the threats from society.

Late last week, one of the great innovators in consumer audio passed away. The loss of Joseph Grado is felt deeply by all of us who love and care about great audio gear.

The company Joseph started, Grado Labs, continues to be a huge name in the hi-fi audio industry. The Grado of today makes several different styles of headphones, from world-class high-end models to sub-$100 consumer models, as well as headphone amplifiers and phono cartridges for record players. It has always followed Joseph’s original vision of making products that try to reproduce music as faithfully and accurately as possible, so you hear your favorite songs the way they were meant to be heard.

“My uncle, foremost, was a lover of music,” says John Grado, Joseph’s nephew and current President & CEO of Grado Labs.

But even though Joseph Grado displayed obvious talent and ambition early in life, Joe never planned a future in audio. In fact, when he began working in the field, he scarcely knew what a decibel was, and he certainly wasn’t well-acquainted with the finer points of audio component design.

Joseph was watchmaker by trade, and while he didn’t have much experience in the audio world, he had a passion for perfection and an ear for sound. It was at the insistence of Saul Marantz (the mind behind Marantz pre-amps) that Joseph met with Sherman Fairchild, who wanted his “expert” advice on improving the manufacturing process of his phono pickups. Joe obliged, and Fairchild all but offered him a job on the spot.

Grado left his watchmaking position at Tiffany & Co. to helm Fairchild’s struggling hi-fi operation and used his talents to design and manufacture quality phono pickups. Not long after, in 1953, Joe struck out on his own to begin making the very first Grado Labs cartridges in his kitchen in Brooklyn. Sixty-two years, almost 50 patents, and dozens of products later, Grado Labs is one of the foremost names in the audiophile world.

Among his most important patented inventions is the stereo moving-coil cartridge, a new (in 1959, anyway) design for the record player stylus that offered a significant improvement in audio fidelity. Joe Grado also created the HP-1000 headphones, an iconic design that’s not only still sought-after by collectors, but one which still technically and visually informs all of the modern headphone designs Grado makes today.

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/joseph-grado-gallery/#slide-id-1732899