Saturday, November 29, 2008

Music Brain Therapy

Sit Back and Relax to Brain Wave Music
An algorithm can turn brain waves patterns into musical scores. Dr. Galina Mindlin of the Brain Music Therapy Center explains how this can heal

Report: Shauna Garelick


This news report introduces a new concept called ‘Brain Music Therapy’. Brain music therapy is a form of neurofeedback discovered in Moscow and brought to North America by Dr. Galina Mindlin. Essentially, it uses music that is determined by the electricity measure in a person’s brain to create music that can treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, stress-related disorders and migraine headaches. It is based on the premise that music can heal. In order to hear a person’s brain music, the patient must undergo an EEG. This measures the active and relaxed brainwaves in the individual’s brain. The results of the EEG are sent to the Moscow Medical Academy. There, these brain waves are put into a mathematical formula and translated into musical notes. Both music to relax the patient and music that helps to be more alert are achieved through this process. The cost of this treatment is five hundred dollars and is not covered by insurance. A person might need this done more than once. Once the patient has become relaxed as a result of the music, they can go back and have it done again and get a new result that will make them even more relaxed. A study that asked a group of people to listen to their own brainwave music and another group to listen to other people’s brainwave music showed that those who listen to their own music were significantly more effective.


While Music Brain Therapy is apparently based on scientific research, the news report does not provide substantiated evidence to reflect this. The ideas behind using a person’s brain electricity to determine how it would translate to music notes and ultimately a piece of music seems plausible. However, given that they did demonstrate one, it is interesting to notice that it was reflective of western European style. What is relaxing for a person in the west might not be the same for a person with another background. The report neglected to mention whether this would change with the ethnic background of the person. It seems difficult to imagine that a person of Chinese descent would have brainwaves that translate into sounds of pentatonic melodies. It seems that songs that would comfort or relax a person would be reflective of music that is more a part of their culture. Furthermore, how is it that a mathematical formula is created from the brain electricity to create an original piece of music? Does it translate into individual notes, phrases, harmonies? Is there one part that reflects the melody and another that determines the harmonies? Some more information or perhaps hearing more brainwave interpretations would have been helpful in understanding this.


While I definitely believe in the powers that music possesses in terms of its abilities to reflect or change a mood, it is always a challenge to comprehend how this translates into science. While qualitative research through the use of questionairres and surveys in addition to research that monitors behaviour is useful in their ability to show what music is capable of, the attempt to quantify this is a challenge. While I don’t wish to reject that people become more relaxed or alert through the music created with their EEG’s, I am reluctant to accept that it is not possible to achieve the same results for a group of individuals with similar characteristics in their EEG results. Until there is further explanation that helps me to understand exactly what it is in the EEG that translates to musical notes, I find it difficult to accept the results at face value. Another aspect of the report that I had trouble with is the research being done on alertness on pilots. I have a problem with people flying planes who need music to be more alert. I am certain that all of the passengers on the flights would agree with this. While I am not able to completely reject this new theory of Brain Music Therapy, I would need more information as to what goes into the process of creating the music. I did try to find out more information by following the link on the site but it is not functional as of yet.

1 comment:

Shauna said...

Sorry, I forgot to post the link to the NBC website where you can find the interview and news report that I have reviewed.