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?

Day 12.5 - Frustrations and Rewards

When you first looked at the title of this blog, you might have thought - "He's going to be looking at behavioural modification therapy and music therapy!". Sorry to disappoint - no, I won't be looking at behavioural modification techniques today.

As readers of my blog, you will have noticed that I have not kept up with the "daily" part of my postings. I had originally conceived this blog to be updated daily, in much the same way as a photographer might complete a "365 project". The reality, I am finding, is much harder. There are a myriad of reasons that I could give for my tardiness and lack of posts however it comes down to motivation and interest. Am I really willing to put the time into the regular posting of comments? Upon reflection, I would have to say; no, not on a daily basis. That said, I remain committed to updating and posting on a regular basis a couple times a week. I must also apologize to those of you who were hoping for better.

Content quality is paramount. I remain committed to ensure that what I write is appropriately researched and documented. I don't want to post short "snippets" of information for the sake of fulfilling my posting ambitions. This means that sometimes it will take me longer than a day to post.

Content sourcing is complex. There are a myriad of sources available for searching and researching new topics and information. My browser bookmarks of "reference tools" is long and varied. However, like many people, I often use Google to search out topics (at least as a STARTing point). Many educational professionals bemone the fact that students often "Google" something and take the first couple references that they are given. The difficulty with that approach is, quite simply, that many search engines like Google post items based on "popularity" and not necessarily on "quality". Thus, a much better article might exist on page 3 of the search results. I want this post to be about the location and distribution of significant and meaningful information about a particular topic. This means that sometimes it will take me longer than a day to post.

I want to learn too! It is well and good for me to post my opinions and findings, but I would be nieve to think that I know everything that there is to know about a particular subject. That is, in part, why I try to come up with a question at the end of my posts. The are both a challenge to you, the reader, and to me, the creator. In this way, we can both benefit from the exchange of information and ideas.

To conclude - please continue to follow this blog. I can no longer say that I will be posting on a daily basis but I do commit to posting on a regular basis.