This week, we tried to explore potential mental disorders we can target. Followings are a quick introduction of the diseases and their respective connection to music!

Parkinson’s Disease: Musical therapy entails engaging a patient in the creation and expression of music, according to the American Music Therapy Association. It has been clinically documented that music therapy has positive effects on one’s physical, emotional and cognitive well being. Music therapy has been shown to help Parkinson’s Disease patients. In the United States alone, there are over half a million individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s. Music therapists have engaged patients in rhythmic auditory cueing, which is a process where rhythm is used to improve movement with Parkinson’s Disease patients. Parkinson's Disease patients suffer from hypophonia, a low voice volume, as well as monotonous speech. Thus, singing helps patients improve their vocal abilities. Vocal exercises help patients improve their respiration and swallowing abilities. Furthermore, when combining music with daily actions (moving, breathing, speaking), one’s neurons are activating in a specific sequence that gets stronger and closer to permanent change with each signal. On a neurological level, listening or performing musical pieces can activate the release of dopamine, a primary neurotransmitter essential for neuroplasticity. If music were to be generated to target the regions responsible for the release of dopamine, then potentially, the sound itself could prompt dopamine release and help Parkinson’s patients, who suffer from a dopamine deficiency.

IDEA: Generate music that can trigger dopamine release (observed via MRI, brain imaging), to help Parkinson’s patients.


  • Gabriella Giffords participated in musical therapy after her brain gunshot wound. Giffords suffered from aphasia. Practicing melody and rhythm variations helped her brain recognize and use new, less-traveled neural pathways.
  • Music therapy focused on behavioral adaptations, but structures
  • Neurological Music Therapy (NMT)
  • On a neurological level, listening or performing musical pieces can activate the release of dopamine, a primary neurotransmitter essential for neuroplasticity. Research has shown that listening to disordered noise has negative effects on brain plasticity, whereas music has positive impacts. This is strongest in musicians as there brain regions responsible for auditory and motor processing are being activated.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Music therapy has a positive effect on patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In one study of 17 Alzheimer’s patients, scientists curated personalized playlists and observed the listening effect, The patients visibly became more stimulated. One scientist said, “When you put the headphones on dementia patients and play familiar music, they come alive. Music is like an anchor, grounding the patient back in reality.” Not only does music manage stress and stimulate positive interactions, it is also engaging. In the MRI scans of the patients’ brain, it was observed that the music had activated the supplementary motor area of the brain, as well as increased functional connectivity among cerebellar and corticocerebellar networks. Although more extensive research must be done to uncover the neuroscience behind this phenomenon, it is theorized that the ability to be lifted by music doesn’t get lost to Alzheimer’s because music is stored in procedural memory, rather than declarative memory.

Video: (original) Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era ( from 3:31 onwards

Anorexia: A study was conducted to compare the levels of anxiety among patients with anorexia. Music therapy was provided after meals. The research aimed to look at the correlation between music and how it affects their distress and anxiety levels.
The result showed that the participation in music therapy acted as a “cognitive divergence” for patients with AN. It allowed them to think away from the anxious thoughts of intaking food and gave patients time to digest their consumption by attending to something other than the action of eating. Furthermore, AN patients who received music therapy revealed to cope with their distressing emotion and feel emotionally numb. While this finding is very significant to our goal of building an app that is geared to control brain signals or parts that are accountable for hormonal secretion that impact our urge to eat either excessively or purge, I felt like we would need to dive deeper into the relationships between music and hormonal secretion in order to complete the moonshot project.


  3. (dopamine)
  4. (NMT)
  5. (Music and TBI)
  6. (Dopamine and Music) (Dopamine and Parkinson’s)