Technological advancement is transforming our lives. In terms of music, digitization has diversified the ways individuals control and regulate their music listening. We can select exactly the music we want from streaming services offering a massive variety of choices, we can take music with us wherever we go, and listen to it as and when we wish. But what is our current scientific understanding of this massive increase in the availability of music, and its effects on our listening habits?
The stress-relief industry is booming. Mindfulness and meditation have become common practices in many large corporations, and research is backing their positive effects on stress management, cognitive functions and general health. Understanding the mechanisms of stress and relaxation as well as their effects on the brain and mind can help in creating a lifestyle that supports wellbeing throughout life. Recent research shows that music may have special power in dissolving stress and creating room for relaxation in our busy lives.
This Fall, Sync Project was honored to collaborate with undergraduate students at MIT and Berklee College of Music with Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (ICE) in a landmark class that explored the research, current applications and areas for development at the intersection of music, health and technology. By providing students with access to mentors and lectures from top faculty and industry professionals, students got a rare glimpse into the therapeutic, clinical and technical applications of music in health.
Daniel Javitt and Robert Sweet recently published a review article in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience on the interesting case of altered auditory processing in individuals with schizophrenia. An intriguing question is whether and how music could be used as a targeted intervention for rehabilitation of auditory processing in schizophrenia.
Sleep is highly important for health in terms of recovery and is essential for learning and forming memories. Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease several important cognitive abilities such as creative and flexible thinking, planning, and effective communication. It is also connected to a wide range of health problems including severe medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Sleep medication may provide easy relief but interest in non-medical ways to support sleep quality is growing. Recent evidence from research shows that music holds great promise in treatment of sleep disorders.
The stress-relieving effects of music listening seem like common knowledge, despite the fact that there is very little empirical research on the mechanisms through which music alleviates stress. Also, many studies are conducted in laboratory settings that are quite far from the real-life situations in which people find relief from music listening. In a recent study published in Neuroendocrinology, researchers sought to explore the effects of music listening in everyday life.
Emotional states are characterized by changes in the functioning of the heart: for example, when you’re excited and happy your heart rate and blood pressure go up, when you’re down they go down. Music, in its capability to evoke emotions can therefore directly influence the heart. In this post we look at current the current understanding of how music influences the heart and suggest future directions for this exciting field of research.
Research on music therapy and the mechanisms behind its effects show that it offers an effective way to complement traditional treatment of even severe conditions such as autism, Parkinson’s, stroke and depression. This post is a short review on the many ways in which music therapists helps patients recover and manage symptoms of a wide variety of disorders.
Musical preference changes with age. Mature listeners are often baffled by the musical choices of younger people - what is inspiring and uplifting to one is a terrible cacophony to another. Similarly, teenagers rarely “get” the tunes their parents find enjoyable. Music listening is a powerful way to support well-being, irrespective of age. We investigate recent research that suggests that younger and older people listen to music for different reasons and experience benefits to well-being through different mechanisms.
The Sync Project’s mission is to develop music as medicine. We are building a data platform that maps music characteristics to real time, objective measurements of physiology from a rapidly growing variety of sensors and devices. The platform will enable discovery and validation of music signatures that are effective for health. In this post co-founders Marko Ahtisaari and Ketki Karanam survey some of the recent research on music and health that lead us to start the Sync Project.