Reference: Wellness and Growth: Acoustic Medicine and Music Therapy, Speaker: Dr. Jayne Standley,September 22, 2010
Summary: Dr. Jane Standley, Director of the Music Therapy Program, Florida State University discussed in the podcast “Wellness and Growth: Acoustic Medicine and Music Therapy,” her studies surrounding music therapy and prenatal, as well as premature babies. She began her discussion with Steve Mencher by explaining how when babies are born prematurely their risk of becoming delayed and needing special education increases by 50%. Dr. Standley and her colleagues started testing the effects of playing music to the premature babies born as early as 23 gestational weeks who were held in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). These children were under high stress due to the various aversive auditory stimuli surrounding them such as, machines, doors closing, water faucets, monitors etc. The studies should that through music therapy, the babies had more oxygen saturation in their bodies and felt calmer. If a baby does not have enough oxygen saturation in the early stages of their life, they are at risk for many medical difficulties including decreased vision and the detachment of the retina. Following this subject, Dr. Standley explained how many of the babies adjusted well in the NICU and went home, yet many were unable to breast feed successfully, or at all. Due to their immaturity in maturation, they could not coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing simultaneously as they had been tube fed for approximately 11 weeks (for those premature babies born at the 23 week period). In response to this problem Dr. Standley invented the “musical pacifier” which connects a pacifier, an air pressure transducer and an electrical circuit together. The baby begins to learn within two and a half minutes that when they suck successfully, the music turns on and continues, but when they stop sucking, the music stops. This device can also alter the pressure that the baby must apply to strengthen their feeding capability. Lastly, Steve Mencher asked to what effect listening to music is an advantage while the baby is still in the womb. Standley explained that in the third trimester; 25 weeks, the baby can hear everything within 15 decibels in their environment including their mothers voice, a TV, music, books read outloud. When a baby is born, it will recognize certain stimuli such as: the mothers voice, most likely have a preference for female voices than male voices, recognize songs that the mother would had enjoyed, can detect grammar errors in their native language and detect different languages from their own. These detections were analyzed by neuroscientists when they noticed the difference in the babies reactions to familiar verses unfamiliar stimuli. The last point that Standley mentioned was that, through the use of music while the baby is in the womb, you can precondition their behavior. Her example was that if a mother listened to the same lullaby before every bedtime for weeks before the child is born, and played this same lullaby when the baby is born, the child will know that sound as the signal to go to bed.
Reflection: This podcast was very interesting and also very helpful for when I might one day have my own children! It is wonderful to know how powerfully helpful music can be as a tool in the medical field. Out of particular interest was the fact that the babies had an innate likeness to music and its pleasurable effects that they would be compelled to continue sucking the pacifier. Also, how receptive prenatal babies are of their environment is very crucial as the child may act certain ways at birth due to the levels of stress in their environment while in the womb. Lastly, the exercise of listening to the same lullaby to facilitate the baby’s sleeping pattern is wonderful and would be very helpful to many parents.