Music Soothes the Parkinson’s Beast


Nerves can be soothed or set ajar by the sounds of music.  But just how does that happen?  Film directors know how to use music to enhance a scene, raising the tempo to accompany a race or employing certain harmonies to enhance mystery.  TV and radio ads are accompanied by musical jingles to stick in the minds of future consumers.  So just what is the connection between neurology and music?

An on-going public symposium is part of an honors course being offered at University of Central Florida called “The Music and The Brain” taught by two professors, one a neurologist and the other a musician. The symposium combines both musical performance and neurological commentary.

Dr. Kiminobu Sugaya is the neurologist who comments on the science behind emotional responses to music. “Music cn act on the same place and release the same chemicals (dopamine) in the brain that drugs do, in the pleasure centers”, he said.  Music can be used as a pleasant stimulant for both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.  But music can also become a torture and a cause for epileptic seizures in muicogenic epilepsy.

There are theories “that certain major scales provoke certain emotions in people” said Professor of music, Ayako Yonetani.  “But the question about the connection of the mind and music is one that everyone is trying to answer.”  Professor Yonetani said that musicians strive to evoke an emotional effect on their listeners such as the theme from “Schindler’s List” and Bach’s “Air on the G-String.

Although the neurological implications of music are not yet thoroughly understood, both Dr. Sugaya and Dr. Yonetani are excited to see more diverse involvement in neuroscience protrams.  Dr. Sugaya suggests that in addition to chemistry, psychology, computer science and even journalism can all contribute to a better understanding in the field of neurology.


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