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The Arts and Medicine
June 27, 2017

Sound HealthAn NIH-Kennedy Center Initiative to Explore Music and the Mind

Author Affiliations
  • 1National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 2John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2017;317(24):2470-2471. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7423

Music is fundamental to the human species in ways that reach beyond entertainment or pastime. In Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks noted that music can “calm us, animate us, comfort us, thrill us, or serve to organize and synchronize us at work or play, [but] it may be especially powerful and have great therapeutic potential for patients with a variety of neurological conditions.” For stroke patients with Broca aphasia, for example, the neural connections that allow ordinary speech are damaged; patients know what they want to communicate but are unable to verbalize their thoughts. Standard medical treatments are limited, but patients working with a music therapist can learn to express themselves through song, which can translate into improved speech potentially through the utilization of neural pathways more heavily relied on during singing.1

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