Volume 11 (2) 2019 – Article (first published on 21 January 2018)
A neuroscience-based rationale for patient-preferred live music as a receptive music therapy intervention for adult medical patients: A literature review
Anusha Ramaswami & Michael J. Silverman
Although patient-preferred live music (PPLM) is a frequently utilised receptive music therapy intervention, a neurological rationale for this treatment does not yet exist. The current paper reviews existing literature and proposes several potential neurologic rationales for PPLM as a receptive music therapy intervention for neurotypical adult patient populations. Additionally, the authors discuss gaps in the current research and make suggestions for further inquiries. The term ‘patient-preferred live music’ is parsed into four separate components: music, familiarity/preference, choice/autonomy, and live performance. The authors searched relevant neuroscience and music therapy literature to find research concerning each of these components. Results indicated extensive neuroscience research regarding the brain’s neurologic response to music, mostly pertaining to the reward system and the process of dopamine release. Additionally, the authors found evidence to suggest that exposure to familiar stimuli and the act of making a choice may both be neurologically reinforcing. Research regarding the mirror neuron system may be a vital entry point from which to begin investigating the live and social aspects of PPLM. Further music-specific and neuroscience research is required to confirm these hypotheses. While various researchers have investigated individual components of PPLM, there is a lack of basic music therapy and neuroscience research regarding the paradigm as a whole. Further investigation is warranted.
patient-preferred live music, neurologic, neuroscience, music therapy, brain
Anusha Ramaswami (MT-BC) graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2017. Currently employed by a private music therapy practice, Anusha serves a variety of clients in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area with Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental disabilities, emotional and behaviour disorders, and psychiatric disorders.
Michael J. Silverman (PhD, MT-BC) is director of Music Therapy at the University of Minnesota. He currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Music Therapy. Specialising in acute care adult mental health, Michael is actively engaged in clinical research at the University’s Medical Centre.