Sit back and relax to brain wave music
An algorithm can turn brain waves patterns into musical scores. In an interview with TODAY Dr. Galina Mindlin of the Brain Music Therapy Center explains how this can heal
updated 1:53 p.m. ET, Thurs., Nov. 16, 2006
Dr. Galina Midlin is a neuro-psychiatrist with a private clinic in New York City that claims to be able to treat mental disorders with music synthesized from patients' own brain wave patterns. The process begins with an EKG test to determine relaxed and alert brain-wave patterns which are particular to a given patient. The patterns are then digitally translated into music using algorithms developed by a group of clinicians, researchers and musicians in Russia. The music is then given to patients as two tracks, one based on relaxed brain waves and one on alert brain waves. Each piece of music is meant to bring the patient into the same state as they were when the brainwaves were produced. The idea is that the music is based on the rhythm of the patients own brain patterns and so will reinforce similar patterns within the brain. Dr. Midlin recommends this type of therapy for patients suffering from everything from insomnia to drug withdrawal to jet lag, and promotes the treatment as an alternative to drug therapies.
This interview, and many others conducted by various news services in 2005/6 Dr. Medlin aggressively promoted the treatment of mental disorders through music based on brain patterns. The concepts that this technique is based upon are sound; music does affect mood and mental state in profound ways, and a person's brain patterns differ from other peoples' and also depend on their state of mind. This interview does, however, make many claims that are not adequately supported by research, and the strong academic and financial interest of Dr. Mendlin in the technique give rise to skepticism of the usefulness of "brain music" in treating patients. Dr. Mendlin's own website about her research (www.brainmusictreatment.com) links to many media appearances but only two academic papers. Of these one is a review of the technique which does not directly present results from studies, while the other, by Kayumov et. al from the journal SLEEP presenting positive results from a small study of insomniacs, is notable in that it directly contradicts some of the claims that Dr. Mendlin makes in her interview with TODAY. A quick search for other supporting studies produced no significant research in this field... It is quite possible that this technique has therapeutic benefit and some of the early research presented by Kayumov seems promising. It is clear however that there needs to be a much broader study of the technique before it's usefulness can be determined.
I found this interview very interesting as it introduces a novel way in which an understanding of music and brain function can be used to help people suffering from a variety of disorders. While the research as presented in this work seems to be far from complete, the possibilities presented by this interview are intriguing. I would very much like to see how this field matures, and to see results from broader more complete studies.