Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 13 - Brain Plasiticity and Brain Research

Right now, my brain is firing on "all neurons". I've just watched an amazing video about the growth and development of the area of brain research called Brain Plasiticity. My head is full of questions and ideas so forgive me if this post is a bit "scatterbrained" LoL!

For unknown reasons, many of the recent publications and internet based media that has caught my attention has dealt with the subject of brain plasiticity, or the ability of the brain to change and adapt to new and/or odd situations, resulting from brain damage or injury. A couple of the resources that I have come across include (in no particular order):

1. Levitin, D. J. (2007). This is your brain on music: Science of a human obsession. London, England: Plume. ISBN: 978-0-452-28852-2. 322 pgs.

There is now an accompanying 6 part video series, entitled, "The Musical Brain" staring Dr. Levitin with guests such as Sting, and Yo-Yo-Ma.

2. Lopez, S. (2008). The soloist. New York: Berkley Books. ISBN: 978-0-425-22600-I

This book has become a major motion picture available in mainstream theatres. While not necessarily about "brain plasiticity" it does reflect the power of music to transform lives.

3. Music and the brain: Are humans wired for music. [Video]. Available from:

4. The songs they can't forget. [Blog posting]. Available from:

5. The brain that changes itself. ["Nature of Things" Video documentary]. Available from:

So why discuss this topic on a blog? Music therapists have long contended that music has the ability to modify and change "neural pathways" in the brain (Davis, Gfeller & Thaut, 2008; Hummelsheim, 1999; Levitin, D. J., 2007). I have personally and professionally seen the effects of a long term relationship with a person with Alzheimer's type dementia who "can't remember what they had for lunch" but recognize that "You've been gone for a long time" or "You're going to play ME some music!". I've also seen the impact that music can make on the partial recovery of function in individuals following brain injury and stroke.

For those music therapists who wish to delve deeper, or who may wish to undertake training in "neurological music therapy (Thaut), I encourage you to look at the following websites (again in no particular order):

1. The centre for biomedical research in music (CBRM) located at:

2. McMaster institute for music and the mind (MIMM) located at:

3. Getting in tune [pdf file) located at:

4. Exploring the musical mind located at:

Finally, I would encourage you to Tweet or contact Nikki Belshe (@nikkibelshe) who has trained and become a Neurological Music Therapist.

Q: What information has tweaked your interest lately and why?


  1. Thanks for posting this blog, I love having all these great resources in one place!

    And thanks for the plug! I changed my Twitter name to @nikkibelsheMTBC ;) A few more great Neurologic Music Therapists are @KimberlySMoore and @AdrienCooperMT.

    Blogging once a day CAN be time consuming! I'm glad you're still trucking along. What a great resource for music therapists!

  2. John, thank you for mentioning my work. I encourage anyone who has questions to tweet me their questions. Twitter: danlevitin


  3. Hello John. You've listed some great resources here - and have added some new ones for me (thanks!). In addition to the NMT Training (held twice a year in Fort Collins, CO) you can read Thaut's Rhythm Music and the Brain. It's a bit wordy, but has good information. Also know other MTs who have neuro-based knowledge of music therapy with specific populations; if interested, just ask!

    P.S. Thanks for the mention, Nikki:D


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