Music in Medicine and Medicine in Music
Sounds are the common language for anyone who has an auditory system that conducts sound waves to another transducer system so that, in the next relay, they acquire a meaning. In fact, in the brain there are areas that process various components of music, such as tone, vibration, harmony; the cerebellum is in charge of the rhythm.
Newborns have limbic responses to music, and five-month-olds enjoy moving to the rhythm of the music. In adults, one of the main motivations to approach it is the relationship it has with emotions and moods, and although there is still debate, there is evidence that music can invoke changes in the components of emotions (subjective sensations, changes in the autonomic and endocrine nervous system, motor expressions such as smiles) and tendencies in activity, such as dancing, singing, clapping or playing an instrument.
Music stimulates the pleasure and reward circuits in the nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegumental area and the amygdala, which modulate the production of dopamine. Other studies report that techno music increases plasma cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), prolactin, growth hormone and norepinephrine, responses that depend on personality and inidual cognitive characteristics.
The power of music over the human is overwhelming, even for those who are not very musical or not very knowledgeable about the subject. Life without music is simply unimaginable. Steven Pinker, a popular psychologist and linguist, throws an interesting paradox about the role of music in our species. From biology, music seems to have no major consequences. That is, if it disappeared, our lifestyle would remain practically unchanged. However, there is evidence that the human being possesses a musical instinct similar to that of language and medicine has taken advantage of this art. Here are some examples of such power:
Cardiovascular effects and pain
A meta-analysis on the influence of music as a therapeutic option in hypertension reports that there are positive effects on its control, and proposes that this is a consequence of the decrease in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of endorphins. Another study reports the control of heart rate (HR) variability in prehypertensive and hypertensive iniduals.
In another study, it was found that in patients with myocardial infarction, listening to Mozart – but not the Beatles – decreased systolic and diastolic pressures. Slow and relaxing times, or happy, reduce blood pressure (BP), HR and promote vasodilation; while fast and tense induce the opposite response.
In cataract surgery, music reduces HR and BP of patients; also decreases the dose of analgesics in urological surgeries when performed with epidural block. This effect has also been reported in patients admitted to intensive care rooms, with a similar result.
Music in intensive care rooms
In intensive care rooms there are several sounds familiar to those of us who have been there as doctors or patients. Mechanical ventilation devices and their beep, beep, beep; the infusion pumps are a soft shhh, shhh, shhh; the whispers of the staff or the cries of the patients.
Loewy et al. report that using a CD with ocean sounds – similar to the noise the newborn heard in the womb – lowered the heart rate, improved the rate of sucking and increased the sleep time of infants admitted to a hospital room.
There are studies that evaluate the influence of the noise of the therapy room, and indicate that it prevents premature newborns from regulating their respiratory and heart rate, since they tend to adjust to the parameters of the environment where they are. By giving a different rhythm to this environment, its parameters improve, in addition to that the therapy reduces the stress of the parents.
Cognition and gait
Listening to music can be used to change, maintain or reinforce affections, mood and emotions. Similarly, to relax, trigger nostalgia, stimulate cognitive effects, achieve greater meanings, or as a platform of support for mental work. Listening to music that evokes sadness may help to cope with the event that caused it, and that music improves mood and strengthens muscle function after some vascular events in the brain.
In older people, it helps to improve balance, and since a relationship between music and language has been found, it is beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Rapid or walking rhythms improve the gait of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Singing helps those with aphasia to regain language.
Be healthy, love music!!!
Dr. Oscar Uribe
OCC Health Care