The Benefits Of Music Therapy

How Music Works With The Brain

Singing, and music in general, can trigger reactions from many different areas within the brain1 -therefore singing may reach areas not affected by dementia.

Emotional responses to music occur at many different levels2 , including those deep within the brain, again providing more opportunities for connecting through song and music.

Procedural memory (the memory you retain when you have previously learned to do something) is thought to be preserved even in dementia, so the memory of songs and music may be rediscovered in this way .

The voice is innately personal and unique. Our connections with the human voice go right back to the womb, therefore making it a potentially powerful tool with which to facilitate interaction and communication.

Sometimes the songs seemed to bring energy to the group, with members sitting up, singing, clapping, conducting or dancing to the music. Sometimes the songs seemed to move people, provoking memories and reflections.’

1. Sarkamo et al, 2008

2. Koelsch, 2005; Blood & Zatorre, 2001

3. Sacks, 2007; Aldridge, 2000.






Further Reading

Aldridge, D. (2000) Music Therapy in Dementia Care

London, New York, Jessica Kingsley

Publishers  (Amazon)

Blood, A.J., Zatorre, R. (2001) Intensely Pleasurable Responses to music correlate with activity in brain

regions implicated in reward and emotion PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – USA) 98 (20) p11818-11823

Koelsch, S, (2005) Investigating Emotions with Music –

Human Brain Mapping 27 p.239-250 [online] Available from :


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Sacks, O. (2007) Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain London, Basingstoke, Oxford: Picador

Särkämö, T.; Tervaniemi, M.; Laitinen, S.; Forsblom, A.; Soinila, S.; Mikkonen, M.; Autti, T.; Silvennoinen, H.M.; Erkkilä, J.; Laine, M.; Peretz, I.; Hietanen, M. (2008) Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke  Brain, March 2008; (131): p866-876.