If music be the food of health, play ON!


How is music processed?
How might we use it to support memory & brain health?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Source: MedicalNewsToday

Music and Physical Health

In last week’s post, an original Tallis Steelyard tale from author Jim Webster, we saw how music awakened the soul of a woman who was struggling with dementia, barely alert until called by the song.

As I noted at the end:
Music has been well documented to remain in the minds of Alzheimer’s patients long after other memories and much of their Executive Functioning capabilities have faded.

Patients often retain memories of well-loved songs, which gives them a great deal of pleasure, and some can still play instruments. The description of life flooding back into formerly vacant eyes in response to music has been reported repeatedly.

Medical researchers have long noted that listening to or playing music can result in changes in our bodies, regardless of our age or current state of mental alertness, however.

For example, lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been observed in the presence of music. Better sleep and a lowered heart rate are associated with listening to music as well.

Even when you are a bit out of sorts, don’t you feel better immediately when a song comes on that reminds you of a particularly happy memory?

Science rings in

Dr. Charles Limb is a musician and surgeon who specializes in cochlear implants at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He has been researching how our brain makes that happen. He and his team analyzed neurological responses to a variety of music, especially jazz and hip-hop.

In studies with magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], they have been particularly interested in finding out which areas of the brain “light up” when jazz musicians are improvising or rappers are “freestyling.”

The Universal Language?

They observed that the areas of the brain activated when jazz players are improvising are actually the language centers of the brain (the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior superior temporal gyrus).

When rappers were freestyling with their eyes closed within the MRI scanner, the researchers observed major activity in the visual and motor coordination areas of the brain.

  • Connection to movement centers certainly makes sense, if you think about it. Since rappers are usually moving when they rap, those areas are likely to be brain-linked.
  • But the visual areas?  Hmmmmmm . . . neurolinked to a video perhaps, or choreography?

Seeing when you listen

Haven’t you noticed that when you listen to music your brain sends you visual information as well — a flash of the club where you first danced to the tune, or the face of your partner when it came on the radio, right before you kissed for the first time?

Some people imagine scenes of their own private movie as they hear certain orchestral arrangements. Others report seeing abstract colors and shapes that flow and change with any music they hear. Maybe you see a few moments of a particular marketing video?

I challenge anyone who’s ever watched one of Michael Jackson’s music videos to listen to that track on the radio without at least a flash or two of a moving image!

Even in a Scanner

The brain seems to call upon its language, visual and motor coordination mechanisms when imagining and responding creatively to music both, even when the participants are lying still, eyes closed, and within a scanner.

In fact, Dr. Limb’s team found that the areas of the brain that were formerly associated with interpreting music – the angular gyrus and the supra marginal gyrus, which process semantic information (meaning, vocabulary, etc.) – are deactivated while musicians are improvising.

So what does that indicate about memory and healthy brain aging?

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Full Recovery after “No Hope” Concussion


There’s ALWAYS Hope

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life
and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Don’t Miss this Post!

If you (or those you love) are struggling with the results of a physical or blast-related TBI, acquired brain injury, stroke, problems with balance, life-long attentional challenges, learning disorders, sensory defensiveness, MS . . .

If you have been to numerous doctors and failed to respond completely to what you have been told is every available therapy or intervention  . . .

If you have ever wondered if you will ever find a way to function with the ease that the rest of the world seems to be able to take for granted . . .

Take the time to read this short post and listen to the video embedded.
Trust me on this – just read and listen.

When Life Changes Overnight

“You know outside we look pretty much the same,
and if we’re not taxing our brains,
we can even interact in a pretty normal way.
But inside, in so many hundreds of small ways,
we have just been completely changed.”

~ Clark Elliott, author of The Ghost in My Brain

One fateful day in 1999, on his way to teach a class at DePaul University, Ph.D. Clark Elliott’s car was rear-ended while he was waiting for the stoplight to turn green.

It seemed like such a minor injury at the time — but there was nothing minor about his resulting concussion.

Suddenly, everything was different.

Once a cutting-edge professor with a teaching/research career in artificial intelligence, he rapidly found himself struggling to get through the most basic of activities, almost every single day for the next eight years.

The world no longer made sense in many ways. At times he couldn’t walk across a room, get out of a chair, unlock his office door, or even name his five children.  In addition to his problems with cognition, he had balance problems and debilitating headaches that would stop only when he applied a bag of ice while sitting in a bathtub of cold water.

He learned that he had to be extremely careful with resource allocation:

  • How much of what kind of mental tasks he could attempt to do each day;
  • How long he could sustain energy on cognitive struggles, and for how many times; and
  • How much simple walking and standing before he could no longer expect his brain to sustain communication with his body well enough for him to remain upright.

Feeling like an alien in his own skin, he sought treatment after treatment from doctor after doctor. One specialist after another told him that they weren’t even sure exactly what was wrong with him – his brain scans didn’t look that bad.

They all seemed to have come to the same conclusion: there was nothing more to be done but to learn to live with it.  Things might improve a bit more over time, he was told, but he could never expect to recover fully from this kind of damage.  Nobody ever has.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

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Stroke & Attentional Disorders


May is Stroke Awareness Month
Time to talk about the link between Stroke and ADD/EFD

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Comorbidities series

Not all attentional deficits are genetic

As I began in Types of Attentional Deficits, attentional problems are accompanied by specific markers, regardless of origin or age of onset:

  • neuro-atypical changes in the pattern of brain waves,
  • the location of the area doing the work of attention and cognition,
  • and the neural highways and byways traveled to get the work done.

The attentional problems you will most frequently hear or read about are exhibited by individuals diagnosed with one of the ADD/ADHD varietals, usually associated with a genetic component.

Related Post: ADD/EFD Overview-101

However, NOT ALL attentional deficits are present from birth, waiting for manifestations of a genetic propensity to show up as an infant grows older – not by a long shot!

In addition to the attentional issues that accompany neuropsychiatric issues and age-related cognitive decline, a currently unknown percentage of attentional deficits are those that are the result of damage to the brain.

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