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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul;1169:374-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04592.x.

A neuroscientific perspective on music therapy.

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Department of Psychology, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom.


During the last years, a number of studies demonstrated that music listening (and even more so music production) activates a multitude of brain structures involved in cognitive, sensorimotor, and emotional processing. For example, music engages sensory processes, attention, memory-related processes, perception-action mediation ("mirror neuron system" activity), multisensory integration, activity changes in core areas of emotional processing, processing of musical syntax and musical meaning, and social cognition. It is likely that the engagement of these processes by music can have beneficial effects on the psychological and physiological health of individuals, although the mechanisms underlying such effects are currently not well understood. This article gives a brief overview of factors contributing to the effects of music-therapeutic work. Then, neuroscientific studies using music to investigate emotion, perception-action mediation ("mirror function"), and social cognition are reviewed, including illustrations of the relevance of these domains for music therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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