Friday, December 2, 2011

Music and the Brain

       Speaking of neural pathways another area that is being researched is the field of Music Therapy. I'm not sure what to think yet, but it sounds promising. Just the word "Music Therapy" sounds so progressive, yet I don't want to let that bias me. I don't think we need any formal studies to know that music can have at at least some affect on moods and behavior. People have been using it to affect us since the beginning of time. I can remember years ago the hype about the so called "Mozart Effect". I say "hype" not to imply that it is total nonsense. I know this was all backed up with studies and then after there were those who thought it was bunk.
       There is certainly nothing harmful about listening to Mozart, but I think people just had their expectations too high thinking that if they play it in the background when their babies are sleeping it will increase their IQ and and maybe turn them into the next Steve Jobs. I once had a therapist- a real therapist not a new age guru- suggest something similar to me. Now Mozart is supposed to help with the logical/analytical side of the brain. I have the opposite issue and this guy suggested I try Maurice Ravel (whom I had never even heard of at the time). He felt this could open up new pathways in my brain. I downloaded some on the Internet and listened. It sounded like something from a Disney movie and the music kept changing pace constantly. I'm not sure if it helped or not but I do get where I think he was going with this. This type of music is used to tell a story without words and paint a picture in our heads. Also the sudden changes can be rather uncomfortable for people with ASD. Perhaps the reasoning behind this is to teach flexibility and intuition. I was also told that if I find myself annoyed by the music that it is all the more reason I should listen to get me out of my comfort zone. He also suggested that I watch more movies, hardly a big chore for the average person but I tend to gravitate toward documentaries and reference books and if I sit through a movie I prefer comedy. I have a tendency to find fiction- even classics a waste of time since they didn't really happen anyway. I know that is not true but I guess the point was to become more well rounded.
       I'm not big on video games either other than a brief "Mario Brothers" phase in 6th grade. I do feel that some of them can be good for the brain however in moderation. Too many kids today are addicted to video games and need to come up for air more often.
       Like food it seems there is healthy music, and "ear candy" such as catchy pop songs. I'm not a music snob and I do like a little ear candy but we just need to balance it off with some "ear vitamins" such as classical, ambient, jazz, opera, even classic rock or soul...a balanced diet.
       For more into just Google "music, the brain, autism, therapy..." or something like that to see what's in the research pipeline.

Now this guy us just posing as far as I know. He's my friend's cat and he doesn't really care for me that much unless I have food.

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