Project/blog link:Music and the Brain: How Music Affects our Memories BASIS Advisor: Kate Taylor Internship location: Barrow Neurological Institute Onsite Mentor: Elliot Mufson, PhD, Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Laboratory at Barrow Neurological Institute
Project Abstract (2017)
What are the mechanisms by which Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and dementia deteriorate brain function, and how does music, through music therapy, affect the progression of the disease? At the Barrow Neurological Institute, the Mufson lab attempts to better understand the ways in which AD and other neurodegenerative disorders deteriorate the brain through research using human brain tissue. The Neurological Music Therapy Services of Arizona (NMTSA) seeks to help and treat patients suffering from these diseases using music therapy. By interning at both locations, I can better understand the mechanisms of these neurodegenerative diseases, and how music plays a role in patients’ health and well-being. Music, in regards to neuroscience specifically, is an especially mysterious and unexplored science with the potential to provide information critical to understanding the brain’s functioning. Its undiscovered implications are numerous, involving memory, language, visuospatial ability, and executive functioning. I hope to contribute to a better understanding of this subject through my research at the lab. I will be learning about these diseases through both reading and practical lab work, as well as observing and running tests on brain tissue, in partnership with NMTSA observing the music therapy techniques meant to improve neurological function and clients’ experiences. Overall, I seek to gain more insight into how music and the brain collaborate - how music strengthens and rewires neural connections damaged by disease - that entails promising future discoveries regarding memory, especially when it is lost.