“Yes, ands…” Responses

Solution #1: Develop algorithms that personalize songs for patients with dementia to alleviate symptoms

  1. “Maybe pair this with a more biological treatment in patients can reap the benefits of both”
  2. We understand the importance of biological solutions and believe that biological approaches are critical as primary treatments of the symptoms. We had always intended for music therapy to be a supplemental approach.
  3. “Teach patients how to play an instrument (focus on music production)”
  4. During our research, we found numerous articles about the additional utility gained from engaging dementia patients with the music, such as singing along or dancing. This category of music therapy is called “active music therapy,” as opposed to passive. This is a good point and we believe that active participation goes a long way!
  5. “I like the idea of a playlist and personalizing it to the patient -- consider building a database because some songs may work for more than one patient”
  6. We initially thought about curating a personal playlist for each patient, but the database idea prompted up to think more broadly about grouping certain songs from the same genre or time period, since certain songs might elicit a positive response in patients around the same age or enjoy the same genre.

Solution #2: Enroll students with ASD in music education at an early age

  1. “Maybe see if specific instruments (ex. winds vs. strings) have more of an effect than others.”
  2. We think this could be interesting, but don’t know if the difference would be that significance or particularly insightful.
  3. “This is a good solution because it’s a new approach and very feasible (doesn’t require too many resources)
  4. Music has been shown to improve social communication and auditory-motor connectivity, both of which are abilities that patients with ASD could improve on. In addition, we believe that music education is fun and engaging! Starting early would reap the most benefits.
  5. “If you can find a way to revise your solution to every day speech, this may allow children with ASD to label emotions in speech as well -- look into adapting melodic intonation therapy used for aphasic patients for this music education! It may work to help communication.”
  6. We think melodic intonation therapy could potentially add a new dimension to our topic and will research it further!

“Yes, buts…”

Solution #1: Develop algorithms that personalize songs for patients with dementia to alleviate symptoms

  1. A lot of “music algorithms” exists (basically any music player app), so resources may be wasted on reinventing the wheel.
  2. The algorithms that we are trying to invent is not necessarily based on the currently existing ones. The currently existing algorithms mainly utilizes the “text analysis,” meaning that the app analyzes the lyrics of the music that the player is likely to play and then recommends relevant types of music. Since our goal is targeting the patients, we are looking into customized algorithm that can evoke memories through organizing and recommending music based on the years and geographic areas that patients are most related to.
  3. How will you be able to evaluate whether music is helping?
  4. What is “awakening’ and how can you detect it would be the most important result we would look into. We believe regular documentation of how a certain music evoked certain types of memories can track and if lucky, reveal, a pattern on how the patient’s brain responds to a specific sound. The category of the music could be more narrowed down into melody, lyrics, and beats.
  5. Songs and memories aren’t guaranteed to make dementia patients lucid. If the functional connectivity of the brain is already gone, how will providing music bring it back?
  6. We are aiming to see if music can work as a stimulus big enough to evoke connection.

Solution #2: Enroll students with ASD in music education at an early age

  1. Not everyone is interested in music (could be more problematic than helpful).
  2. We understand this could be a major issue in that some ASD patients are resistant in receiving therapy. Therefore, we are also aiming treatment for really young patients with ASD. Perhaps, even continuing therapy for non-patient looking type of people with plausible symptoms. The best case scenario is also providing therapy to the mothers with unborn babies and ASD. ASD is more or less known to be a genetically passed down disease, so we can project the likelihood of the baby having the disease. Prenatal treatment therapy may reveal the effectiveness of the music. The only concern would be something like should this be mandatory.
  3. There is already a lack of music instructors in society and it may be difficult to find instructors that are patient and can work with children with ASD.
  4. We also agree with this part. Especially, we see a lack of music instructors with appropriate medical qualifications. Coming up with an incentivization for such occupation can also greatly improve the market.
  5. There is research showing that certain children with ASD have a hard time ascribing agency to others and that is where their lack of communication comes from. How will music help them interact with others in a way that is beneficial to them?
  6. This is where the music comes in because surprisingly ASD patients have a superior ability in recognizing and connecting music with emotions. We will try to utilize this fact as much as possible.

  7. Revise your solution (or solutions!) :  Based on the feedback you received, what are your new best solutions?  If you feel one solution is the clear winner at this point (with minor revisions), you are free to say so and focus on that one solution from now on.  If you’d like to keep both of your solutions (with minor revisions) you may do that as well.  Finally, perhaps this exercise has brought about an entirely different solution or solutions that your group would like to pursue!  Any of these are OK.  Just give 2-3 sentences about your revised or new solution(s) here

After evaluating all our feedback, we have revised our solutions.

For solution #1: Develop algorithms that personalize songs for patients with dementia to alleviate solutions

  1. Build a musical database
  2. Each patient (or loved on if the patient is unable to) will input data regarding their childhood, such as date of birth and childhood town. This data will filter out songs and help generate a playlist that most likely resembles the musical likes of the patient in their lucid ages. For example, “Summer in the City” co-written by John Sebastian and Mark Sebastian climbed to the top of the charts in the mid 1960s, especially during heat waves given the content of the song. Say a current dementia patient lived through the 1966 heat wave in NYC, then there is an increased chance the patient listened to the song and will remember a specific memory associated with the urban heatwave.
  3. Other songs generated by the music algorithm will include the most popular of the decade of their childhood, most popular songs of their geographical region, songs from popular TV show or movie soundtracks, etc. The goal is to connect music with their history.
  4. Connect more with biological treatments
  5. Our initial moonshot included limited information regarding the connection between our algorithm with biology. Though there are limited sources analyzing the connection between musical databases and neuroscience, hopefully with the help of our experts, we will be able to include a mix of the two fields.  

For solution #2: Enroll students with autism spectrum disorder in music education at an early age

  1. Does the type of music affect cognitive development?
  2. At the time of our moonshot, we did not present the idea that specific instruments may have more of an impact on the cognition of autism patients. Moving forward, we will look into studies investigating if specific instruments or type of music (i.e. classical music, electronic music, orchestral music, band music, wind instruments, string instruments, etc) affect one’s cognitive development more so than other instruments. This argument will be similar to the well known idea that classical music facilitates studying. Potentially, one type of music will help more so than others.
  3. Label emotions
  4. To help autism patients label emotions, music education will have autism patients listen closely/read the lyrics of the song and identify the emotion. For example, Happy by Pharrel Williams conveys joyous lyrics with an upbeat melody. Musical instructors can point to pictures of emotions, in this case, a happy face.
  5. Melodic Intonation Therapy
  6. Musical instructors will teach the specific rhytym and intonation that may help patients with their speaking abilities. This same process, musical intonation therapy, is used with Parkinson’s patients.