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Music is Good Medicine

Aids patients with learning and verbal problems

Sometimes the best medicine comes out of a musical instrument rather than a pill bottle.

Music can be used therapeutically for people who suffer communication or movement disorders. For example, music therapists often complement treatment for neurological conditions, including brain injury, stroke and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Music even has been used as an aid to treat substance abuse.

Studies have shown that music can affect moods and enhance memories, reduce stress and anxiety and improve concentration. It also can help relieve pain and promote healing. The Record of Bergen, N.J., reprints a feature from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram explaining the many applications for music therapy.

Treatments using music don't just involve playing recorded music. Therapists use specific instruments or find specific musical selections that allow patients to break through physical or mental barriers. The Irish Times describes how intensively music therapists interact with patients, many of whom cannot communicate verbally.

Music therapy has applications for healthy people, too. British psychologist David Lewis says the right music can stimulate specific brain waves that calm and relax the listener and enhance learning. Lewis told the Electronic Telegraph, "When people are wired up to EEGs, the machines that measure electrical patterns in the brain, and we play classical music to them, we find that they tend to produce a large number of alpha waves. This particular type of brain activity is associated with a state of relaxed alertness." Music by Vivaldi and Mozart were the most relaxing.

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