Friday, March 23, 2012

If music be the food of love ..

When our children were going through their final year exams at school, the eldest used to listen to the radio - usually commercial pop - but by the time our youngest went through, he was plugged into an iPod and it was more difficult to assess his musical genre as it echoed out of his skull! My attempts to convince them to try to listen to Mozart failed miserably, even though back then it had been shown that listening to the great Master did improve ones memory and ability to study! Such are the trials of a parent.

But music is wonderful stuff, and classical music particularly so. Music therapy is used in various contexts in clinical medicine: it is used to reduce anxiety after heart attacks and is used by other clinicians when taking bone marrow samples in order to reduce the patients appreciation of pain. There are other clinical uses in helping with anxiety in general and for those undergoing chemotherapy, but now there appears to be another string to the musical bow - prolonging survival after Heart transplants.

Researcher in Japan used a mouse model and found that by playing Opera and classical music to recently transplanted mice, survival length was increased. Revealingly, this did not happen with "new age" music or single frequency monotones. Lead author Dr Masanori Niimi and his team looked for the reason for this and have proposed that the increase in survival is related to spleen related cells, CD4+CD25+ which control peripheral immune response - how the body reacts to foreign matter.

Most people would acknowledge that there is inherent beauty and "healing" in listening to classical music and (some) opera - (most)young people excluded of course! So it's good to see that there really is some science behind what most of us have inherently believed. One wonders when science will come around to other such "beliefs" and find that they too actually work/have a scientific basis!
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Anonymous said...

Well I do know that music can help to lift me out of a funk but sadly, I'm with your kids when it comes to Mozart and Opera.

Mariodacatsmom said...

Music and sunshine are natural healers - both make you feel good.