Music Therapy and Brain Health

Most of us love music, but does science show it actually helps our brains stay healthy?

Short answer, YES! Much like other alternative treatments used in hospice care, pet therapy for example, music therapy has been proven to actually help patients' mental health improve. How, and why, was answered beautifully in a post we came across on the Posit Science brainHQ blog by certified music therapist Kimberly Sena Moore, titled, "Top 12 Brain-Based Reasons Why Music as Therapy Works".

  1. Music is a core function in our brain. Our brain is primed early on to respond to and process music. Research has shown that day-old infants are able to detect differences in rhythmic patterns. Mothers across cultures and throughout time have used lullabies and rhythmic rocking to calm crying babies. From an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes language. We don’t yet know why, but our brains are wired to respond to music, even though it’s not “essential” for our survival.
  2. Our bodies entrain to rhythm. Have you ever walked down the street, humming a song in your head, and noticed that your walking to the beat? That’s called entrainment. Our motor systems naturally entrain, or match, to a rhythmic beat. When  a musical input enters our central nervous system via the auditory nerve, most of the input goes to the brain for processing. But some of it heads straight to motor nerves in our spinal cord. This allows our muscles to move to the rhythm without our having to think about it or “try.” It’s how we dance to music, tap our foot to a rhythm, and walk in time to a beat. This is also why music therapists can help a person who’s had a stroke re-learn how to walk and develop strength and endurance in their upper bodies.
  3. We have physiologic responses to music. Every time your breathing quickens, your heart-rate increases, or you feel a shiver down your spine, that’s your body responding physiologically to music. Qualified music therapists can use this to help stimulate a person in a coma or use music to effectively help someone relax.

Could Your Kitchen Floor Keep Your Doctor in the Loop?

Emerging technology could make home living more safe for those facing physical health hurdles

What if the floor in your home could send data on your health to doctors or a local caretaker?

That's the question being asked by New York's Tactonic Technologies, which is designing a pressure-sensitive floor tile system crafted to evaluate the health of whoever passes over it. Boasting the ability to track and transmit information via smartphone, email, and other electronic means, it would be quite simple for these in-floor systems to keep family, friends, neighbors, caretakers, doctors, and really anyone else you'd like in the loop when it comes to your health.

Already holding the ability to track symptoms of arthritis, joint issues, and Parkinson's disease, could this be the wave of the future when it comes to allowing us to live in our own homes as long as possible?

Enjoying Life at 102 Years Young

Taking notes from a vibrant 102-year-old

If you want to know what really counts in life, ask someone who's lived it for over a century. That's the idea behind a neat blog series we came across that speaks with Centarians to get their take on how to have a long, happy life. A recent entry to the series featured Dorris T. O'Dell, who, as you'll see, is still quite the firecracker at 102 years old:

Bacon? You bet!
"I used to drink Scotch, and we went to a lot of dances and parties. Man, was that fun! I ate bacon, drank and swore, and ate all the chocolate I wanted."

"I still have my memories."

Dorris is happy that she can still remember all the way back to her childhood. Even at 102, she has her eyesight and hearing (with the help of a hearing aid), and a great appetite. "I've lived a good long life. I was married to Dewitt H. O'Dell for 66 years. That's almost a record these days."

Wouldn't change a thing.
Dorris says it's best not to worry about regrets. "I try to live each moment. I've been so blessed. I had good parents and a long marriage, and I still have my health. I have a good place to stay and good food. Life couldn't be better."

We love to see people in their later years still enjoying life to the fullest, and hope that Dorris' words bring inspiration to all of you!