Have you ever wondered how different types of music can make you feel a certain way? Or how a certain song can bring you back to a particular time in your life, where specific memories vividly play out in your mind? Or perhaps, why a particular song gets stuck in your head and you can’t seem to get it out? On November 1st, Dr. Dorita Berger presented a Grand Rounds talk titled Music & Brain Plasticity: A Look at Music Therapy, which helps explain some of these questions. Dr. Berger stated that music is energy, an energy that has the ability to imitate the human emotional energy. The reflection of music as human emotional energy explains how particular types of music can influence and change human behavior, at times even acting as a healer, an animator, or a tool for communication.
Aside from this emotional connection, when listening to and playing music, many regions in the brain are activated and the entire sensory system is being affected. Dr. Berger presented the idea that due to this increased activity of a multitude of regions in the brain, music has the ability to increase brain plasticity and enhance brain structures. As we all know, listening to particular music can act as a mood therapy in certain instances, but the evidence that music is able to increase neuroplasticity has led to music becoming an integrated portion of clinical treatment interventions and therapies. The incorporation of music as a treatment or method of therapy can be seen as a step toward more holistic treatment plans since it elicits emotional responses, reduces stress, and suits other needs specific to the patient, rather than solely addressing the biological symptoms. While there has been a surge in the utilization of music as a clinical treatment, Dr. Berger calls for more research surrounding music and its impacts on the brain, especially the effects of playing and creating music on neuroplasticity.