Dr. Dale Taylor welcomes his music therapy colleagues to the discussion via an AMTA-Pro podcast about music therapy and the brain as it relates to treating clients with cognitive dysfunctions. The podcast focuses on principles of music therapy and the brain that are applicable to the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in specific disease categories often encountered in music therapy. Dr. Taylor shares research and observations touching on four questions of musical influence:  1. Does music change neural impulse patterning in the brain? 2. Does music activate the whole brain? 3. Does music initiate or facilitate neural plasticity in the brain? 4. What music should be used with patients/clients with cognitive dysfunctions?

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Music Therapy and the Brain: Treating Cognitive Dysfunctions

AMTA-Pro Podcast

December, 2010


Dale Taylor, PhD, MT-BC

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Podcast Discussion Outline

1. Introduction to the discussion of music and the brain as related to treating clients with cognitive dysfunctions.

2. The Biomedical Theory of Music Therapy

  • Definition and overview
  • Five hypotheses (note: this podcasts focuses on hypothesis 1.)
  • Hypothesis 1: Musical perception and participation stimulate the brain to organize incoming stimuli and to plan and execute corresponding behavior, thereby enhancing perceptual ability, cognitive processing, and interactive response capability.

3. The Brain, Cognition, and Music

  • Definition and overview
  • Disorders involving cognitive dysfunction addressed by music therapists
  • Overview of several research papers focusing on the brain and music

4. Learning, Memory, and Cognition – Neuronal Plasticity

  • Research demonstrating ability of music to facilitate neural plasticity
  • Overview of research findings indicating active music making expands the brain
  • Logan’s story by Mary Jane Dunlop, 2008

5. Patient Specific Music (PSM)

  • What music should music therapists use to treat cognitive dysfunctions?
  • Treatment planning using a brain-based music therapy approach
  • Steps include: (1) Collect and examine known client diagnostic information. (2) Assess to determine behavior capabilities and limitations.(3) Formulate your working model of client ability and disability. (4) Reformulate your model according to client brain functioning. (5) Determine what therapeutic outcomes would indicate improved functioning in client behavior. (6) Determine what changes in brain functioning would lead to improved client behavior. (7) Determine musically stimulated behaviors utilize, require or develop those brain functions. (8) Determine what musical interventions involve use of those behaviors.(9) Assess what musical styles, instruments, songs and participation modes qualify as PSM. (10) Design the musical interventions selected in #8 above utilizing the PSM selected in #9. (11)  Implement the planned interventions


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Dr. Dale Taylor is Professor Emeritus and founder of the Music Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He has also served on the faculty of Alverno College in Milwaukee and was recently a Visiting Professor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Dr. Taylor is currently Chair of the Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care, and on the Board of the Wisconsin Quality Home Care Authority. In the past he has worked at county, state and private psychiatric facilities including the Milwaukee County Mental Health Center and the Menninger Foundation Hospital in Topeka Kansas. He has served as Editor of the International Journal of Arts Medicine, and he wrote the first historical research paper published by the Journal of Music Therapy. Dr. Taylor served as President of the Great Lakes Region, Chair of the NAMT Certification-Registration Committee, on the NAMT/AMTA Assembly of Delegates, and is currently a member of the AMTA International Relations Committee. Dr. Taylor has taught or spoken at Ohio University, the University of South Africa at Pretoria, the University of Melbourne Australia, and the University of Western Sydney. He has   been a guest speaker at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City, the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center, the Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center of Chicago, Soongsil and Sookmyung Universities in Seoul, Korea, the University of Buenos Aires Law School and the University of El Salvador in Buenos Aires, the World Congress of Music Therapy, and the European Music Therapy Congress. Dr. Taylor was the opening speaker at the 2008 Mozart & Science Conference in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Taylor can be contacted via email: taylordb@uwec.edu  Information about the 2nd edition of Dr. Taylor’s book on the Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy is listed below.


2nd Edition

by Dale B. Taylor, Ph.D., MT-BC

The 2010 edition of Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy covers years of investigations on music therapy and the brain. The new edition contains dozens of full color illustrations, a new chapter describing the research basis for the new hypothesis on cognition, Foreword by a Mayo Clinic College of Medicine neurologist, over twice as many pages as edition one due to volumes of new research, and numerous references to real applications of biomedical theory by practicing music therapists and educators. Presents a unifying theoretical basis for observed therapeutic effects of music by laying a scientific foundation for the thesis that the brain is the target organ for sensory input and the mediator of neural impulses that result in physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. Describes the role of music therapy in pain management, anxiety reduction, critical care, burn units, oncology, obstetrics, pediatrics, surgery, treating eating disorders, behavior disorders, coronary care, traumatic brain injury, immune functions, cognitive disabilities, and enhancing human capabilities when addressing severe depression, developmental disorders and psychosis.

2010 – ISBN: 978-0-9778455-1-4, $29.95

Published by Barton Publications ~

Contact bartonpub@ymail.com

Available here via Westmusic.com