Abstract: Nonmusician with severe Alzheimer’s dementia learns a new song

Via Fondazione Mariani, from Neurocase 2017 Feb;23(1):36-40

A nonmusician with severe Alzheimer’s dementia learns a new song

Baird A, Umbach H, Thompson WF 
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders and Psychology Department, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

The hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD) is impaired memory, but memory for familiar music can be preserved. We explored whether a non-musician with severe AD could learn a new song. A 91 year old woman (NC) with severe AD was taught an unfamiliar song. We assessed her delayed song recall (24 hours and 2 weeks), music cognition, two word recall (presented within a familiar song lyric, a famous proverb, or as a word stem completion task), and lyrics and proverb completion. NC’s music cognition (pitch and rhythm perception, recognition of familiar music, completion of lyrics) was relatively preserved. She recalled 0/2 words presented in song lyrics or proverbs, but 2/2 word stems, suggesting intact implicit memory function. She could sing along to the newly learnt song on immediate and delayed recall (24 hours and 2 weeks later), and with intermittent prompting could sing it alone. This is the first detailed study of preserved ability to learn a new song in a non-musician with severe AD, and contributes to observations of relatively preserved musical abilities in people with dementia.

For our Italian friends:

Il sintomo caratteristico della demenza senile di Alzheimer (AD) è la memoria compromessa, ma i ricordi di melodie familiari possono essere preservati. Gli Autori hanno indagato se un non-musicista affetto da una grave forma di AD potesse imparare una nuova canzone. A una donna di 91 anni (NC) malata gravemente di AD è stata insegnata una canzone che non conosceva. I ricercatori hanno valutato il tempo di recupero differito della canzone (24 ore e 2 settimane), la cognizione della musica, il richiamo di due parole (presentate all’interno del testo di una canzone a lei familiare, in un proverbio famoso oppure come la radice di una parola da completare), e la capacità di completare un testo e un proverbio. La cognizione musicale di NC (percezione dell’altezza e del ritmo, riconoscimento di una musica familiare, completamento del testo delle parole) si è dimostrata relativamente conservata. La paziente ha recuperato 0 parole su 2 presentate nel testo della canzone o nei proverbi, ma è riuscita a richiamare 2 su 2 radici delle parole, suggerendo quindi funzioni intatte della memoria implicita. Ha potuto cantare sia eseguendo sul momento la canzone appena imparata, sia dopo un richiamo ritardato (24 ore e 2 settimane dopo) e, con un prompt intermittente, è riuscita a cantare da sola. Questo è il primo studio dettagliato sull’abilità conservata di imparare una nuova canzone nei non musicisti affetti da severe forme di AD, e fornisce un contributo alle osservazioni relative alle preservate abilità musicali nelle persone affette da demenza.

Full article may be found here.

Baird, A., Umbach, H., & Thompson, W. F. (2017). A nonmusician with severe Alzheimer’s dementia learns a new song. Neurocase, 23(1), 36-40.

ICMPC Poster: Musical Intensity in Affect Regulaton: Interventons in Self-Harming Behavior

In partial fulfillment of my graduate thesis, this poster represents the findings of my study conducted at the University of California, San Diego. Presented July 5, 2016 at the 14th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in San Francisco.

For full study, see chapter 2 of my thesis.

For PDF, see HERELD poster ICMPC.


Prior research associates listening to heavy music with reduced suicide risk, especially among teenage girls when utilized for vicarious release. Nevertheless, few studies consider the active use of heavy music in self-regulation for those who suffer from thoughts of self-harm and/or mental illness. In order to to better understand the mechanisms by which engaging with heavy and intense music may circumvent self-harming behavior, a pilot study is presented of 283 subjects. The majority of those surveyed report suffering from thoughts of self-harm or mental disorders. To examine the use of affect regulation via both generic (non-specified) and heavy, intense, and highly emotive music, we created the Music in Affect Regulation Questionnaire (MARQ), utilizing music in mood regulation (MMR) strategies from the work of Saarikallio. We identify heavy music by the presence of capacious, distorted riffs; loud, pervasive percussion; or an overall feeling of ‘raw power,’ emotion, and affective intensity stemming from the instrumental or vocal parts. Our findings collectively show that heavy music listeners (and those who have thoughts of self-harm, in particular) interact with definitively heavy, intense, or highly emotive music differently than with generic music, especially in the use of modulating negative mood. These findings seem less related to genre-specific categories than certain musical commonalities collectively understood as intensity, and provide significant evidence for heavy music’s ability to circumvent self-destructive impulses, especially when applied in tandem with specific listening strategies of affect-regulation. Additional evidence from prior case studies further suggests the value of deeper investigation of the conscientious use of heavy music as a potential intervention for those suffering from affect dysregulation and self-harm.


Musical Intensity in Affect Regulaton: Interventons in Self-Harming Behavior


Note: Pathways in Music is going to go ahead and vehemently endorse this conference. 

CALL FOR PAPERS – DEADLINE: October 20, 2015 12 noon GMT


December 3-4, 2015 • Odense, Denmark

The Performances of Everyday Living Dept. for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark (SDU) at Odense with the support of The Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities

Keynote speakers: Rikke Platz Cortsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark • Theodore Gracyk, Minnesota State University Moorhead, USA • Keith Kahn-Harris, Birkbeck College and Leo Baeck College, UK • Imke von Helden, University of KoblenzLandau, Germany • Florian Heesch, University of Siegen, Germany • Toni-Matti Karjalainen, Aalto University, Finland • Tore Tvarnø Lind, University of Copenhagen, Denmark • Karl Spracklen, Leeds Beckett University, UK.

The research program The Performances of Everyday Living at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) at Odense is pleased to invite paper submissions for presentation at MIND OVER METAL: METAL MUSIC AND CULTURE FROM A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE, December 3-4, 2015 at SDU in Odense, Denmark. We welcome research presentations that examine metal music and culture from the perspectives of philosophy, musicology, marketing, media studies, medicine, acoustics, theology, literary studies, music pedagogy, semiotics, sociology, linguistics, religious studies, anthropology, psychology, biology, education studies, music therapy, performance studies and culture studies. Exemplification by means of audio-visual material is most welcome. The time allotted per paper will be 30 minutes for presentation and 15 minute for discussion; each speaker will thus be accorded 45 minutes including discussion. An abstract of minimum 350 words/maximum 400 words should be submitted to cmgrund@sdu.dk with “Paper submission for Mind over Metal” on the subject line no later than 12 noon GMT on October 20, 2015. Each abstract submitted will receive double-blind peer review, and you will receive notification of whether or not your paper has been accepted for presentation by 12 noon GMT on October 27, 2015. Papers presented at the conference will be afforded the opportunity for publication in a special issue of JMM: The Journal of Music and Meaning http://www.musicandmeaning.net, provided they pass the double-blind peer review process employed by JMM. JMM is an international peer-reviewed academic online journal published from the Study of Culture at SDU with the support of The Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities. Portions – perhaps all – of the conference – will be streamed live online. Attendance at the conference is free; there is no conference fee. All who receive notice that their papers have been accepted for presentation are asked to confirm participation no later than November 1.

We request that all who wish to come to SDU on December 3 and 4 simply to attend the conference (without presenting a paper) register no later than November 19, 2015 by sending an email marked “Registration” to cmgrund@sdu.dk. Information about lodgings, eating establishments and other practical facilities in Odense, as well as updates regarding the conference in general will be available at http://www.soundmusicresearch.org/mom/updates.pdf.

A poster is available at http://www.soundmusicresearch.org/mom/PLAKAT_280915.pdf

The change of music preferences following the onset of a mental disorder

Mental Illness 2015 Jun 18;7(1):5784
The change of music preferences following the onset of a mental disorder

Gebhardt S (1), von Georgi R (2)

1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, Germany; 2 Department of Music Science and Music Education, University of Giessen, Germany ; International Psychoanalytic University of Berlin, Germany

A psychiatric population (n=123) was examined on how music preferences had changed after the onset of a mental disorder. Most patients did not change their previous music preference; this group of patients considered music helpful for their mental state, showed more attractivity and enforcement as personality traits and used music more for emotion modulation. Patients who experienced a preference shift reported that music had impaired them during the time of illness; these patients showed less ego-strength, less confidence and less enforcement and used music less for arousal modulation. A third subgroup stopped listening to music completely after the onset of the mental disorder; these patients attribute less importance to music and also reported that music had impaired their mental state. They showed more ego-strength and used music less for emotion modulation. The results suggest that the use of music in everyday life can be helpful as an emotion modulation strategy. However, some patients might need instructions on how to use music in a functional way and not a dysfunctional one. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists as well as music therapists should be aware of emotion modulation strategies, subjective valence of music and personality traits of their patients. Due to the ubiquity of music, psychoeducative instructions on how to use music in everyday life plays an increasing role in the treatment of mental illness.

Versione Italiana

Una popolazione psichiatrica di 123 persone è stata esaminata per indagare il modo in cui le loro preferenze musicali sono cambiate dopo l’insorgenza della patologia mentale. La maggior parte dei pazienti considerava la musica di aiuto al proprio stato mentale, mostravano più tratti di personalità di attrattività e applicazione, usavano la musica soprattutto per la modulazione delle emozioni. I pazienti che sperimentavano un cambiamento delle preferenze riportavano che la musica li aveva in qualche modo toccati negativamente nel momento della malattia. Questi pazienti riportavano minore autostima e fiducia e usavano meno la musica per la modulazione delle emozioni. Il terzo gruppo riferiva di aver interrotto l’ascolto della musica dopo l’inizio della malattia mentale e attribuivano meno importanza alla musica che a loro avviso aveva influenzato negativamente lo stato mentale. I risultati suggeriscono che l’uso della musica nella vita di tutti i giorni possa essere utile come strategia di modulazione delle emozioni. In ogni caso, alcuni pazienti necessitano di essere indirizzati sul modo in cui devono usare la musica in un modo funzionale e non disfunzionale. Gli psichiatri e gli psicoterapisti così come i musicoterapisti dovrebbero essere informati circa le strategie di controllo e modulazione delle emozioni, della valenza soggettiva della musica e dei tratti della personalità dei loro pazienti. Dal momento che la musica è ubiquitaria, una guida psicoeducativa su come utilizzarla è sempre più necessaria per il trattamento delle patologie psichiatriche.

For full article, please visit NCBI online.

Gebhardt, S., & von Georgi, R. (2015). The Change of Music Preferences Following the Onset of a Mental Disorder. Mental Illness, 7(1), 5784. doi:10.4081/mi.2015.5784

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: International workshop on quantitative and qualitative music therapy research

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International workshop on quantitative and qualitative music therapy research
October 15, 2015
Barcelona, Spain

Music is known to have the power to induce strong emotions and physiological changes. Musical activities have a positive impact in the perception of quality of life and may even improve cognitive, social and emotional abilities. it is not surprising that a variety of clinical conditions are often treated with music therapy. Large scale studies have shown that music therapy produces significant improvements in social behaviors, overt behaviors, reductions in agitated behaviors, and improvements to cognitive problems, However, the positive effects of music therapy are not homogeneous among all studies, and there is often a lack of formal research involving quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the benefits and limitations of music therapy in concrete treatments.

Workshop aims
The aim of the workshop is to promote fruitful collaboration among researchers, music therapists, musicians, psychologists and physicians who are interested in music therapy and its effects, evaluated by applying quantitative and qualitative methods. The workshop will provide the opportunity to learn about, present and discuss ongoing work in the area.  We believe that this is a timely workshop because there is an increasing interest in quantitative and qualitative methods in music therapy.

Submission of abstracts
We solicit 1-page abstracts reporting on quantitative or qualitative music therapy research.  Submissions should include the title, authors’ names, institutions and contact email address. Papers should be submitted in pdf format by email to: musitherapy@gmail.com no later than Friday, July 17, 2015.

In order to encourage participation, registration to the Workshop will be free of charge. However, the workshop has a limited number of places for non presenters, so please register by sending an email to rafael.ramirez@upf.edu with your name and affiliation.

Information provided by Society for Music Perception and Cognition (biweekly digest).

For more information on qualitative and quantitative methods in music therapy research, please see this post by my colleague.