Amerikanska National Institutes of Health (NIH) har tillsammans med sopranen Renée Fleming (Polarprisvinnare 2008) tagit initiativ till projektet Sound health: Music and the mind för att närmare studera de neurologiska processer som aktiveras av musik. I JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) presenterar Fleming och NIH:s ledare Francis Collins sitt samarbete.
For stroke patients with Broca aphasia, for example, the neural connections that allow ordinary speech are damaged; patients know what they want to communicate but are unable to verbalize their thoughts. Standard medical treatments are limited, but patients working with a music therapist can learn to express themselves through song, which can translate into improved speech potentially through the utilization of neural pathways more heavily relied on during singing.
The number of stories and viral videos attesting to the promise of music therapy in clinical applications has grown substantially in recent years. Yet even with decades of practical application, we do not fully understand how music and music therapy achieve these beneficial effects, or how to optimize them for the individual patient. We now have the opportunity to connect our rapidly increasing insights from neuroscience with the clinical experience of applying music therapy in practice.