Dance Returns The ‘Joy Of Movement’ To People With Parkinson’s : Shots – Health News : NPR

If you pictured a dancer, you probably wouldn’t imagine someone with Parkinson’s disease. Worldwide, there are 10 million people with the progressive movement disorder, and they struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor balance.

But over the past 15 years or so, a few thousand have taken dance classes that are part of a program called Dance for PD. It began in Brooklyn and has spread throughout the country and around the world. It has also attracted the attention of scientists interested in the ways dance might ease symptoms.The program in Venice, Calif., is in its fifth year.

NPR Interview

One recent afternoon, “Broadway Baby” blasted from the sound system as nearly two dozen people tried to imitate the movements of instructor Linda Berghoff. The students are people with Parkinson’s and their spouses or caregivers. For the moment, everyone was seated, but with bodies pulled upright, arms stretched and fists pumping in time to the music.

Continue reading at Source: Dance Returns The ‘Joy Of Movement’ To People With Parkinson’s : Shots – Health News : NPR

Does experience with music enhance other areas of the brain?

Do we still want to remove music from our public education?

I selected this study to point out the benefits of tonal music study on the brain as corollary conclusions below . If tonal languages improve music abilities, music can work the other way, improving the brain in the process. If so, this study implies that the music development should be done simultaneously with other brain activities, like learning tonal skills in language to force the different brain areas to work together during learning.

“Mandarin makes you more musical – and at a much earlier age than previously thought. That’s the suggestion of a new study from the University of California San Diego. The implications of the findings go beyond determining who may have a head-start in music, the researchers say. The work shows that brain skills learned in one area affect learning in another.

“A big question in development, and also in cognition in general, is how separate our mental faculties actually are,” said lead author Sarah Creel of the Department of Cognitive Science in UC San Diego’s Division of Social Sciences. ”

For instance, are there specialized brain mechanisms that just do language? Our research suggests the opposite – that there’s permeability and generalization across cognitive abilities.

In a tone language, the tone in which a word is said not only conveys a different emphasis or emotional content, but an altogether different meaning. For instance, the syllable “ma” in Mandarin can mean “mother,” “horse,” “hemp” or “scold,” depending on the pitch pattern of how it’s spoken. Mandarin-language learners quickly learn to identify the subtle changes in pitch to convey the intended outcome, while “ma” in English can really only mean one thing: “mother.” It’s the linguistic attention to pitch that gives young Mandarin speakers an advantage in perceiving pitch in music, the authors conclude.

“Both language and music contain pitch changes, so if language is a separate mental faculty, then pitch processing in language should be separate from pitch processing in music,” Creel said. “On the other hand, if these seemingly different abilities are carried out by overlapping cognitive mechanisms or brain areas, then experience with musical pitch processing should affect language pitch processing, and vice versa.”

Co-author Gail Heyman, of UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology, who specializes in development, added: “Demonstrating that the language you speak affects how you perceive music -at such an early age and before formal training – supports the theory of cross-domain learning. “Tone languages are common in parts of Africa, East Asia and Central America, with estimates that as much as 70 percent of world languages may be considered tonal. Other tonal languages besides Mandarin include Thai, Yoruba and Xhosa.

Absolute pitch is the relatively rare ability to recognize a musical note without reference to any other notes. Relative pitch, or understanding the pitch relationships between notes, is the focus of the present study. Relative pitch allows you to sing in key and be in tune with other people around you.

“We show for the first time that tone-language experience is associated with advanced musical pitch processing in young children,” the study co-authors write. “There are far-reaching theoretical implications for neuroscience and behavior, and our research has important practical implications for designing early intervention programs, or ‘brain training’ regimes.'”

Read more at Source: Mandarin makes you more musical?

Being A Musician Is Good For Your Brain | The Huffington Post

“Science has shown that musical training can change brain structure and function for the better, improve long-term memory and lead to better brain development for those who start in childhood.

Musicians may also be more mentally alert, according to new research. A University of Montreal study, slated to appear in the February issue of the journal Brain and Cognition, shows that musicians have significantly faster reaction times than non-musicians.

The findings suggest that learning to play a musical instrument could keep your brain sharp as you age, and may help to prevent certain aspects of cognitive decline in older adults. “As people get older, for example, we know their reaction times get slower,”

Simon Landry, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. student in biomedical ethics, said in a statement. “So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them.”

From Ted Ed Lesson: How playing an instrument benefits your brain 

Continue reading at Source: Being A Musician Is Good For Your Brain | The Huffington Post

Rhythm on the brain, and why we can’t stop dancing

Music and dance are far from idle pastimes. They are universal forms of expression and deeply rewarding activities that fulfil diverse social functions. Both feature in all the world’s cultures and throughout history. A common feature of music and dance is rhythmic movement, which is often timed with a regular pulse-like beat.

But the human capacity for rhythm presents something of a puzzle.Even though rhythmic coordination seems fundamental to human nature, people vary widely in ability. Some have the machine-like precision of Michael Jackson, others are closer to the case of “beat-deaf” Mathieu.What are the underlying causes of these individual differences? By looking at the way the brain responds to rhythm, we can begin to understand why many of us can’t help but to move to a beat.

Results indicated that the strength of neural entrainment was related to people’s ability to move in synchrony with the beat. Individuals with strong neural responses were more accurate at tapping a finger in time with the beat of the two rhythms.

We also found individual differences in brain responses to the two rhythms. While some individuals showed a large difference between strength of entrainment for the regular rhythm versus the syncopated rhythm, others showed only a small difference.

In other words: some people required external physical stimulation to perceive the beat, whereas others were able to generate the beat internally.

Remarkably, people who were good at internally generating beats also performed well on a synchronisation task that required them to predict tempo changes in musical sequences.

So the capacity for internal beat generation turns out to be a reliable marker of rhythmic skill. This adds new meaning to Miles Davis’ reported maxim that “in , silence is more important than sound”.

But we still don’t know why individual differences in the strength of neural entrainment occur in the first place. They may reflect the efficiency of neural responses at early levels of auditory processing, such as brainstem responses. Or the degree of connectivity between higher-level auditory and motor cortical regions.

Continue reading at Source: Rhythm on the brain, and why we can’t stop dancing

Western v Indigenous Medicine – A Thought Visualization

In the process of understanding my approaches for using music (and now dance) for health and healing, I came up with a simple thought visualization diagram appearing on my home page. I have added some prose to the diagram explaining the need to find the right balance between indigenous and western medicine when we develop health-based practices.

See my new: wellness-balance-diagram

How to Build a Blue Man Group PVC Tubulum – Cigar Box Nation

If you’ve ever seen the Blue Man Group, then you know all about the Tubulum.  This instrument is built from a series of PVC tubes that are whacked at the end with flat rubber slappers, similar to cheap flip flops.

We’ve come across several free plans online for Tubulums such as the eHow version, but nothing compares to the college physics report authored by John Johnson that is swimming around the internet.

Johnson’s plans gives precise measurements of the tubes for proper tuning, even noting the temperature and humidity of the area, which was affecting the tuning.  Download the plans and build your own!

Click here for the instructions:   how-to-build-a-blue-man-tubulum

Continue at Source: How to Build a Blue Man Group PVC Tubulum – Cigar Box Nation

Music Might Regulate Brain Dopamine To Change Mood : Science : iTech Post

Music has been known to affect people’s mood. People who would like to change their mood listen to music that would suit what they feel. Now there might be more evidence of this as music might regulate brain dopamine to change the mood, as a study shows.

Sound in general affects the mood of a person. Noise can be distracting and can make a person feel grumpy. Music can put a person at ease, depending on what type of music is being played.

A study by imaging genetics has been done by Professor Elvira Brattico from Aarhus University. The study has been done along with the University of Helsinki in two Italian hospitals.

The study shows that music can regulate dopamine in order to change a person’s mood. While music can regulate dopamine though, its effect can be different from one person to another

Continue reading at Source: Music Might Regulate Brain Dopamine To Change Mood : Science : iTech Post