Researchers Reveal What Happens to Your Brain With Music Therapy

Music can cure your body and mind. It doesn’t really matter which performer you prefer better as long as it’s music. Listening to music makes your body move, and yes, your favorite tunes have an incredible effect on your overall health.

In the past decade, music therapy has been used as an alternative, and researchers have finally determined the effect of music therapy on your brain.

Music therapy

Experts at the American Music Therapy Association explain that music therapy is, “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

They also note that music therapies support the emotional, cognitive and social needs of a person. These therapies include creating music, singing, moving to the beat of the tune and listening to music.


Music therapy is supposed to help a person build upon the skills learned or improve current skills. Individuals are also expected to apply their knowledge in everyday life. Music therapy is efficient in the following areas:

  • Communication and expression of feelings (clients and families)
  • Physical rehabilitation and encouraging effect
  • Motivation
  • Reduce and handle stress
  • Relieve pain
  • Boost memory
  • Strengthen muscular capability related to speech

If you work in sales or if you are writer, you have probably noticed that music, audiobooks and videos can motivate you, reduce your stress, help you visualize and meditate.

Music or verbal speaking can change your mood. Do you put on some music when you work out? Of course you do! Everyone does it. You do it without a recommendation from an expert, and here you are, “surviving.”

The benefits of music therapy

1. Brain damage

In 2010, experts published The Cochrane Collaboration, a report that confirms the beneficial effect of music on those dealing with brain damage from accidents or stroke.

Experts worked on a collection of past reports, and compared the results from the music therapies. The findings of this report were based on 184 cases.

Acquired Brain Damage may cause problems with motor skills, speech, social skills, pain and emotional health. Experts took into consideration the following methods:

  • Rhythm to improve movement
  • Singing to support speaking and improve voice quality
  • Listening to music to relieve pain
  • Music improvisation to boost mood and enhance emotional health

According to this analysis, rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) improves walking ability linked to stride, cadence, symmetry and strength of the person’s movement.

Another similar study showed that improvement in the movement was noticed in legs and other body parts. Stroke victims learned how to play an electric piano or drum.

Their stroke had caused limited hand dexterity and movement. In 3 weeks, participants had 15 sessions, and the method improved their speech, accuracy and ease of movement.


The Cochrane Collaboration couldn’t prove that music helps those diagnosed with brain damage to speak, it doesn’t rule out this effect.

Gabrielle Gifford is a Congresswoman who was shot in her head. Music therapy has great effect on her recovery. The congresswoman had lost the ability to speak. In 4 years, she could communicate by singing and chanting.

2. Autism

Autistic individuals can improve their social skills, communication and emotional expression and recognition through music.

Patients with ASD enjoy music therapy more than traditional therapy, and this provides great success in the learning process. Initial claims suggested that autistic individuals can’t respond to music emotionally. These claims turned out to be false.

It’s true that these individuals have hard time finding words for their emotions, but they sure learn how to interpret facial emotions by linking happy music to a happy face and sad tunes to a sad face.

This actually teaches them empathy. Scientists are now trying to theorize if this method can help autistic individuals handle their motor skills and attention difficulties.

3. Parkinson’s disease

Sufferers sometimes “freeze.” They know they need to go to the bathroom, but their move is “frozen.” Some studies have found that music therapy can be beneficial in this aspect.

Patents learn songs of their choice and walk to it while singing it. Next time their body freezes, they hum the song, and their body reacts.

4. Other benefits

Music therapy can help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, ADHD, pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD and other conditions. Scientists are trying to determine how it interplays with our brain, and hopefully, this method will be applied in therapies worldwide.

The effect of music therapy on your brain

Music has a much greater effect on your brain than you will ever imagine. Most of these effects are linked to brain plasticity or the flexible way in which your brain can open other learning pathways.

1. Dopamine

Listening to certain music makes you excited. The release of dopamine is helpful in those dealing with depression and anxiety, and also motivates you. The release of this neurotransmitter is linked to an increased blood circulation.

2. Hebbian Theory

Hebbian or Hebbs Theory is a study that show how two neurons are fired off at the same time, and also learn at the same time. When you listen to music, you move your hands or feet or other body parts.

Music is associated with the rhythm, resulting in simultaneous movement. Your heartbeat and breathing match the beat. This theory sort of explains how we can teach motor and breathing to disabled individuals.

3. Noise versus music in plasticity

Music helps you learn new things and boosts your memory. Noise has a negative impact on your stress impact, memory and ability to learn new things.

4. All brain is encompassing

Music stimulates several areas of your brain, including regions for listening, emotions, memories, physical movement and visual imagery.

Final thoughts

According to historians, people learned how to make music in order to communicate with others before they could speak.

Music helps you communicate with people who speak different language or belong to a different culture. Experts have to conduct even more studies to provide more evidence on these theories.

One day, music may be of even greater help for those dealing with specific health condition. It may be the cure you’ve been looking for.



Leave a Reply