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“Music has more ability to activate more parts of the brain than any other stimuli.”

-“Alive Inside” Award-winning documentary film

Our DOBARA Flashback Friday activity last week asked members to recall and list 3 of their favorite songs from the yesteryears.

Recent studies have revealed that hearing music, in particular a song that we may have loved long ago, involves extensive neural networks in our brains, including those related to creativity and emotion. Hearing a favorite piece of music from our past, especially one that we haven’t heard in a long time, can evoke strong emotions and link our minds to the time in our life when we heard that song so often.

Prepare your brain for a bountiful body of new research on how regular doses of self-selected music can actually “Change the Brain” for the better. For decades, music therapy experts, caregiving professionals and family members have known, through experience, that music does - something or a combination of somethings - to improve our health and elevate mood. But it’s only in the past few years that research from around the globe has offered proof of just how powerful music and other sounds can be for an older person’s health, both brain and body.

What plausible mechanisms might explain the benefits of music?

How can music and other forms of art– either creating it or appreciating it – actually change biological functions?

The “something” in music that contributes to health and wellness is being identified, measured, and tested. Roger Anunsen and his MINDRAMP partner Michael C. Patterson explain that the development of a music intervention research pathway is well underway. They also believe that music research will provide a blueprint for other non-pharmaceutical, sensory-based cognitive interventions based on regular “doses” of carefully selected, curated playlists of a person’s all-time favorite songs. They are informed by the wealth of research and in particular the work of Oliver Sacks in his book “Musicophelia” and Daniel Levitin in his book “This is Your Brain on Music.”

Whenever you hear or think of a favorite song, your amygdala and hippocampus are engaged in a measurable process of neuroelectrochemical reactions that Roger calls “NeuroSquirts.” You might break into a smile. Your toe might start tapping to the beat. Simply put, you might say that song makes you “feel good.” But wait, there’s more . . . much more that is happening. Your brain is reacting by expressing very positive neurochemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and even oxytocin which is also known as “The Cuddle Chemical” that is so important in human bonding with others.

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