November 15, 2018

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Why Music Matters

November 15, 2018

 

Music is a part of our lives. At YogaReach, it’s also a crucial tool to engage the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. Thanks to neuroscience, we regularly use music to address three vital areas that impact our clients’ lives.  

 

Attention, Cognition and Working Memory

Ambient music helps us to relax or focus on challenging cognitive tasks, like studying. At YogaReach, music can also be used as a diversion to challenge the brain's neuropsychological functions. An Italian study has identified improvements in frontal lobe function (cognitive flexibility, processing speed, attention, and working memory) when music therapy is used.

 

By distracting our clients with lively music while concurrently challenging them to focus on their bodies and breathe, we use musical “interference” to both lighten class mood and strengthen our clients' cognition.

 

Movement and Gate

Researchers suggest that music may bypass inactive neural pathways to active ones, leading to improvements in gait and mobility. While science hasn’t fully identified the mechanisms that respond to music, the vast improvements researchers see in patients show a promising future. As soon as our class music starts, we immediately see less shuffling and more fluid movement.

 

Emotion

Music therapy stimulates the production of two vital neurotransmitters: dopamine, which controls motor function, and serotonin, the body's natural "antidepressant."  Both neurotransmitters decline as Parkinson's disease progresses, making music a vital tool to elevate people's moods and improve their mobility. Our students report feeling happier, more hopeful, and energized by the end of class.

 

Overall, we incorporate everything medical science tells us about music to make classes more than engaging and fun. We intentionally use music to move, dance and sing. More importantly, we use music to delay the overall progression of Parkinson’s.

 

Music is medicine, and it makes every class a celebration. As singer-songwriter Billy Joel once said, "...music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music."

 

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