Happy to share my first academic publication from the July issue of Music & Medicine! Article includes my work from UC San Diego on musical intensity and self-harming behaviors as well as 3 case studies illustrating how music can be used in life-preserving ways. Conducting this research was one of the most challenging and meaningful endeavors of my life, and I’m honored to see these individuals’ powerful stories shared.
This year, I had the privilege of serving as event photographer and social media chair for the annual meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. I am happy to share that the official #SMPC2017 flickr is now online! Feel free to download, tag, and share your memories from this year’s conference. Link for sharing: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm5Qgj2M
Here’s the slideshow I put together of the conference photos. If you were in attendance, it was the video shown during the banquet Wednesday night.
Hope everyone had a blast at SMPC 2017! Happy viewing!
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
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.
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.
Hello all! Sincerest apologies for the severe lack of content over the past year or so. I have been tucked away studying music and psychology at UCSD, and who knew: grad school can be time-consuming! Luckily, I’m unwaveringly passionate about what I have been privileged to research, and I’ve enjoyed…well, many moments 🙂
To come to the point, I’d like to ask a bit of support in order to finish my thesis. In 2011, I received generous support from you all to attend my first conference surrounding music and the brain. Five years later, I find myself again in need of assistance to conduct research in my field. This time, however, your help will fund the final steps for completion of my thesis: broadly approaching how music might be used to combat and intervene in young people who struggle with self-destructive behavior. I have an immense faith in music’s capacity to heal, transform, and even save lives.
Taking place in 3 weeks, I have been invited to participate and present my research in the UK in Epigenesis and Philosophy: A Workshop on the Work of Catherine Malabou. This event brings together scholars in both the humanities and natural sciences. We will engage in critical discussion regarding our work in tandem with the work of the aforementioned French philosopher widely known for her ideas which merge philosophy, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. Some of you may recall my enthusiasm for her work on plasticity as the catalyst for my decision to pursue graduate studies in how music may be used as a healing tool. I have since been lucky enough to converse with Catherine on a number of occasions, and she remains a primary source of inspiration and critical analysis in the wake of her timely question “What Should We Do With Our Brain?”
As a graduate student, I have been obscenely blessed with a fellowship that allows me to study in a wonderful program. Last year, I was awarded graduate travel stipends that allowed me to present my work locally and abroad. Unfortunately, the financial situation in my department is quite different this year, and it seems what few resources were available have been exhausted. Participation in the upcoming workshop would be a tremendous aid in research for the thesis (which must be completed by May of this year for graduation in June). The budget including air travel, ground transportation, food and lodging comes to around $1,700.
Funding this vital research not only supports completion of my graduate thesis — it furthers investigation of the transformative healing, powers I believe music can have on the mind. Please consider joining others who have donated here and help us make the largest impact possible.
For information on the types of research I do, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit any of the sites below:
Thank you so much for your support!
CALL FOR PAPERS – DEADLINE: October 20, 2015 12 noon GMT
METAL MUSIC AND CULTURE FROM A CROSS-DISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVE
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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