Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Topic: Music and health

Music can affect how we feel, think, and behave. But how do we learn about the specifics of people's responses to music so that we can apply this to health and well-being? By looking at characteristics of the music, as well as the differences between listeners, we hope to better understand as well as make use of our strong reactions to music.

Rebecca Schaefer

Description of topic

The use of music in clinical settings is an age-old practice, however only few of these methods have been scientifically evaluated or understood. Although the application of music to health was long considered non-scientific, its highly prevalent use, together with increasing evidence of replicable neurological responses to music, calls for systematic clinical investigations. Given that music provides a complex, emotionally charged stimulus, with many aspects that may drive any observed effects (i.e. perceptual stimulation, potential participatory elements, social aspects, etc.), dedicated investigations of the separate elements of musical activities promise to yield important and useful results with implications for future intervention design.

This leads to several interesting research questions. For instance, how can musical interactions influence neural and behavioral processes? Can we isolate aspects of musical interactions that are crucial to the effectiveness of music-based health interventions? Can specific patient groups be identified for whom music-based interventions are most likely to be effective? Our projects on music, health and well-being include investigations into musically cued movement in rehabilitation contexts, effects of music listening and participation in healthy aging and dementia, applications of musical imagery, and more. In these projects, we make use of brain imaging methods (EEG, (f)MRI), behavioural lab settings, and clinical paradigms.

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