February 2006

EEG, Newborn, Surgery with Music

  1. Music and the EEG
  2. Sing to Your Newborn

  3. Using Headphones for Surgery Music 


Music and the EEG

Did you know that you have electricity in your body and your brain? This is not a theory, it's a fact! One of the most important medical tests that exists to diagnose brain problems is the EEG.

There have not been many experiments that have looked to see how the brain processes music. Measurements of brain activity using the electroencephalogram (EEG) have shown that both the right and left hemispheres are responsive to music.

Other researchers have recorded neuronal activity from the temporal lobe of patients undergoing brain surgery for epilepsy. During this study, awake patients heard either a song by Mozart, a folk song or the theme from "Miami Vice". These different kinds of music had different effects on the neurons in the temporal lobe. The Mozart song and folk song reduced the activity in 48% of the neurons while the theme from Miami Vice reduced the activity in only 26% of the neurons. Also the Miami Vice music increased the activity in 74% of the neurons while Mozart and folk music increase the activity in only about 20% of the neurons. Some of the neurons had action potentials that kept time with the rhythm of the music. Although these results do show that the temporal lobe is probably involved with some aspect of music, it is unclear exactly how this area of the brain is used in the appreciation of music.

You can read about this and more at http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/music.html#eeg

Comments and questions welcomed!


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Sing to Your Newborn

I recently visited a new mother and baby in the hospital. What a precious little girl this was too. The first thing I wanted to do was start humming a soft lullaby. It seems to be instinctive to want to lull a baby, but this little angel was already sleeping so soundly that I didn't. Is it OK to sing or hum to even talk softly to a newborn? Of course! There are very few "rights and wrongs" when it comes to that sort of thing. The main thing it to communicate with YOUR baby or grandchild or niece or nephew. Singing and humming convey a sense of "everything is going to be OK" and "all is well" better than most anything else after being fed and clothed.

Many new mothers are self-conscious about their singing. Not surprising. We live in a critical and judgmental society, but do it anyway! Babies are not a bit critical. Your baby has neard your voice for the past nine months and it is this voice that means love, acceptance, nurturing, home. Make up your own tunes, your own words. Take a tune you already know and put new words to it. It really doesn't matter. Please feel free to ask me questions. Just post them to this blog.

Happy humming!


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Using Headphones for Surgery Music

Surgeons and medical staff have been using music in the OR for sometime now, but few people really consider that the patient needs music too. Or that the music that the patient needs is very different from what the surgical staff needs. While the medical staff performs surgery, they often listen to high energy upbeat music, especially for long surgeries. The patient, on the other hand, needs slow, steady, serene music that will keep their bodies relaxed and bio-rhythms stabilized. This is why headphones for the patient should really be standard procedure. I have had back surgery with a Walkman and tapes I put together and I have helped dozens of other people choose music for their surgery. If you're going to have surgery in the near future, please contact me and let me help you choose the perfect music for YOU!

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Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW

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