Therapeutic applications

Types of music differ in the types of neurological stimulation they evoke. For example, listening to classical music has been found to cause comfort and relaxation as reward while rock music may lead to discomfort. No judgement there. Just choices and steering depending on context. Musical discomfort, like sitting in a cardboard boat in sinking season, can be quite entertaining. Less so if there are dancing alligators around.

Neuroscientific studies have shown music to be an agent capable of influencing complex neurobiological processes in the brain and suggest that it can potentially play an important role in treatment. Clinical studies provide some evidence that music therapy can be used as an alternative therapy in treating depression, autism, schizophrenia, and dementia, as well as problems of agitation, anxiety, sleeplessness, and substance misuse, though whether it can actually replace other modes of treatment remains undetermined. ~ Mental Health Implications of Music: Insight from Neuroscientific and Clinical Studies
  • People who have autism spectrum disorders often show a heightened interest and response to music. This may aid in the teaching of verbal and nonverbal communication skills and in establishing normal developmental processes.
  • In older adults with Alzheimer's, dementia, and other mental disorders, music therapy has been found to reduce aggressive or agitated behavior, reduce symptoms of dementia, improve mood, and improve cooperation with daily tasks, such as bathing. Music therapy may also decrease the risk of heart or brain diseases in elderly dementia patients.
  • There is evidence that music therapy may increase responsiveness to antidepressant medications.
  • There is evidence that music played to the womb during late pregnancy may lead to children being more responsive to music after birth. Soothing music may help newborns be more relaxed and less agitated.
  • Music may result in significantly better sleep quality as well as longer sleep duration, greater sleep efficiency, shorter time needed to fall asleep, less sleep disturbance, and less daytime dysfunction.