Research overview

Here is a selection of relevant and interesting articles chosen from leading research literature. Click on the links to access the original articles and abstracts


Experiencing music

A revolution in research about how the brain experiences and reacts to music is underway. This research includes how people from different cultures experience the same basic emotions through music, or how a newborn child has special areas of the brain that are activated by music and even how different areas of the brain are activated when anticipating an emotional climax while listening to music. Improvising musicians have even been used to identify which areas of the brain are activated by creativity.

Music, the food of neuroscience?
Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in Music
Towards a neural basis of music-evoked emotions
Functional specializations for music processing in the human newborn brain
Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music
Processing of hierarchical syntactic structure in music


Music, dance and an enriched environment in rehabilitation after stroke

More and more scientific studies show that culture can help the undamaged parts of the brain to develop new functions after a stroke. Animal experiments have proven that in a simulated challenging environment rats can recover from stroke-like symptoms. Finnish researchers have shown that rehabilitation has been greatly improved for human patients who listen to their own choice of music or talking books. The results were deemed so important that they were later published in the prestigeful publication The Lancet, who stressed the importance of the clinical use of the results of the study. In addition, dance has been shown to have positive effects on patients after stroke.

Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke
Music in stroke rehabilitation, Editorial, The Lancet 371:698 (2008)
An Enriched Environment Improves Sensorimotor Function Post-Ischemic Stroke
Music and Speech Listening Enhance the Recovery of Early Sensory Processing after Stroke
Translating the Use of An Enriched Environment Poststroke from Bench to Bedside: Study Design and Protocol Used to Test the Feasibility of Environmental Enrichment on Stroke Patients in Rehabilitation
Music listening after stroke: beneficial effects and potential neural mechanisms
Application of Adapted Tango as Therapeutic Intervention for Patients With Chronic Stroke


Dance for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

The result of several regulated studies from various research groups has shown that regular training in dance or dance-like movements for patients with Parkinson’s disease slows down the progression of many of the symptoms, and can even cause some patients to go into regression.



Tai Chi improves balance and mobility in people with Parkinson disease
Effects of dance on movement control in Parkinson’s disease: A comparison of Argentine tango and American ballroom
Impact of a weekly dance class on the functional mobility and on the quality of life of individuals with parkinson’s disease
A Feasibility Study of the Effects of Music and Movement on Physical Function, Quality of Life, Depression, and Anxiety in Patients With Parkinson Disease
Randomized Controlled Trial of Community-Based Dancing to Modify Disease Progression in Parkinson Disease
The Effects of Adapted Tango on Spatial Cognition and Disease Severity in Parkinson’s Disease



Dance to keep the mind and body in shape

Dance can also be a way to prevent and ease health problems for healthy elderly individuals. Those that have danced regularly show much better than average results in cognitive tests than those that haven’t, and even a few months of dance lessons noticably improved their neurological abilities.


Superior sensory, motor, and cognitive performance in elderly individuals with multi-year dancing activities
Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions
Dancing for Balance: Feasibility and Efficacy in Oldest-Old Adults With Visual Impairment


The Effect of making music on the brain and learning

The brain can be trained like any other muscle. This is most evident among musicians, as it is easy to compare how much time professional musicians, amateur musicians and non musicians have spent on their musical training. If these groups are then compared, a number of marked differences in their brain structures appear, which in all probability explains why musical training makes it easier to learn both languages and other subjects.


Computerized Training of Working Memory in Children With ADHD-A Randomized, Controlled Trial
In vivo evidence of structural brain asymmetry in musicians
Increased corpus callosum size in musicians
Extensive piano practicing has regionally specific effects on white matter development
Understanding the Benefits of Musical Training
Musical Expertise Boosts Implicit Learning of Both Musical and Linguistic Structures
A Little Goes a Long Way: How the Adult Brain Is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood
Early Musical Training and White-Matter Plasticity in the Corpus Callosum: Evidence for a Sensitive Period


The learning mind

The increase in knowledge about how the brain works means that we now also know more about the learning process, how it works, and how it can be facilitated or made more difficult. This knowledge can be of great importance to educational systems if applied correctly.



Computerized Training of Working Memory in Children With ADHD-A Randomized, Controlled Trial
We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education
Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition
Mind, Brain, and Education: Building a Scientific Groundwork for Learning and Teaching
Adult-Generated Hippocampal Neurons Allow the Flexible Use of Spatially Precise Learning Strategies
Neuroscience: Small, furry … and smart
Prediction of Individual Brain Maturity Using fMRI
Resistance to forgetting associated with hippocampus-mediated reactivation during new learning
Distinct roles for direct and indirect pathway striatal neurons in reinforcement



Culture in the treatment of mental illness

Mental illness is on the increase, and costs society enormous sums every year (see The trillion dollar brain drain, news, Nature 478:15, 2011.). It is obvious that we need to increase our knowledge of how the brain functions, in order to be able to meet the new challenges that we face. Music Therapy is a method that has given good results for the treatment of depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and psychoses. Our increased knowledge of how the brain works teaches us more and more about what learning is, how it takes place, and how it can be facilitated or made more difficult. This knowledge can be of great importance to educational systems if applied correctly.

The Effects of Improvisational Music Therapy on Joint Attention Behaviors in Autistic Children: A Randomized Controlled Study
Dose–response relationship in music therapy for people with serious mental disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis
Music therapy for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia‐like disorders
Family‐centred music therapy to promote social engagement in young children with severe autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled study


The Neurobiology of dance

What happens to the brain when we dance? American ressearchers have mapped how areas of the brain are involved in the different aspects of dance. The results have been deemed so interesting that researchers have published them in the popular science magazine Scientific American




The Neural Basis of Human Dance
So You Think You Can Dance?: PET Scans Reveal Your Brain’s Inner Choreography




New methods for studying the brain can help researchers to understand what happens during Dementia, and to both prevent and find a cure for it.

Rescue of aging-associated decline in Dnmt3a2 expression restores cognitive abilities
Individual music therapy for agitation in dementia: an exploratory randomized controlled trial
Individual music therapy for agitation in dementia: an exploratory randomized controlled trial, Ridder et al, Aging & Mental Health 17: 667 (2013)




Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour
New evidence on testosterone and cooperation


City living and urban upbringing affect neural social stress processing in humans, Lederbogen et al, Nature 474: 498 (2011)



Music to reduce pain: