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music

Singing or Playing Music Throughout Life is Linked with Better Brain Health While You Age

in Art/Entertainment/Health/People 63 views

Playing a musical instrument has obvious rewards: the sense of fun and enjoyment, the ability to express feelings in different ways, and the satisfaction experienced as proficiency improves, but could it actually be making you smarter?

Well, scientists working on PROTECT, an online study open to people aged 40 and over, reviewed data from more than a thousand adults to see the effect of playing a musical instrument or singing on brain health, and what they found was that, apart from any benefits it has for emotional wellbeing, it actually improved the memory and cognitive speed of the 40-and-ups.

Over 25,000 people have signed up for the PROTECT study, which has been running for 10 years, and in order to come up with this exciting finding the team reviewed participants’ musical experience and lifetime exposure to music, alongside results of cognitive testing, to determine whether musicality helps to keep the brain sharp in later life.

The findings show that playing a musical instrument, particularly the piano, is linked to improved memory and the ability to solve complex tasks—known as executive function.

Continuing to play into later life provides even greater benefit. The work suggests that singing was also linked to better brain health, although this may also be due to the social factors of being part of a choir or group.

“A number of studies have looked at the effect of music on brain health. Our PROTECT study has given us a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between cognitive performance and music in a large cohort of older adults,” said Anne Corbett, Professor of Dementia Research at the University of Exeter.

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Classical Symphonies Can Synchronize Heart, Lungs, and Even Electrical Impulses of the Listener

in Art/Entertainment 362 views

The perfect synchronicity of a classical symphony has the power to similarly synchronize the movement, heart rate, breathing rate, and the electrical conductivity of skin between audience members,

The beautiful finding comes from a study of 132 people and three classical pieces: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Op. 104 in C minor,” Brett Dean’s “Epitaphs,” and Johannes Brahms’ “Op. 111 in G major.”

Previous studies, the authors note, have shown that music may be able to induce synchronization in listeners, but there has been little investigation into whether concert audiences become synchronized.

Most synchronization in humans is caused by a direct social interaction with another person and is typically found in breathing or walking.

Professor Wolfgang Tschacher and his colleagues at the University of Bern in Switzerland observed 132 people whilst they listened to a string quintet of the three pieces whilst monitoring them in several ways.

Participants’ movement was tracked with overhead cameras and their physical responses with wearable sensors. They were also asked to fill out a questionnaire about their personality and mood.

The authors observed significant synchronization between audience members for movement, heart rate, breathing rate, and the electrical conductivity of skin (which indicates arousal of the sympathetic nervous system). The greatest level of synchronization was seen in the breathing rate.

Additionally, the personality traits of a listener were associated with their likelihood of synchronizing physical responses—those with agreeableness or openness traits were more likely to become synchronized, whilst those with neurotic or extravert traits were less likely to become synchronized.

These are four of the “Big Five” personality traits, with openness being typical of creative types, and agreeableness found in people who find tension and conflict very difficult.

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‘Distinguished’ music promoter, producer Medwick returning to NNY to promote new album

in Entertainment 380 views

A Watertown High School graduate who went on to work in the music industry as a producer, promoter, marketer and journalist, has gigs in the north country lined up in support of his new album, “All My Friends.”

Joe Medwick, who developed his musical chops as a teenager in Watertown, has performed with the Neville Brothers, Levon Helm, Ry Cooder, the McGarrigle Sisters and others.

The 1973 graduate of Watertown High School grew up on Michigan Avenue, where he formed his first band, The Baskerville Hounds.

In 2007, Mr. Medwick, who also owned his own independent music and film production company, received the distinguished alumni award from the Jefferson Community College Alumni Association for his work in the music business.

A Watertown High School graduate who went on to work in the music industry as a producer, promoter, marketer and journalist, has gigs in the north country lined up in support of his new album, “All My Friends.”

Joe Medwick, who developed his musical chops as a teenager in Watertown, has performed with the Neville Brothers, Levon Helm, Ry Cooder, the McGarrigle Sisters and others.

The 1973 graduate of Watertown High School grew up on Michigan Avenue, where he formed his first band, The Baskerville Hounds.

In 2007, Mr. Medwick, who also owned his own independent music and film production company, received the distinguished alumni award from the Jefferson Community College Alumni Association for his work in the music business.

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Watertown-based jazz group to play ‘on the Green’

in Entertainment 411 views

The jazzy sounds of Segue will fill the air at the next Concert on the Green from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Cape Vincent.

The free concert is held on the village green on Broadway Street, with the rain location at the fire hall, also on Broadway.

Segue is a Watertown-based five piece group that plays jazz and other great music, from Frankie Valli to modern pop-funk. The group is comprised of brothers Steven Elliott (drums) and Kevin Elliott (keys/vocals), Steve’s daughter Sarah Cole (keys/vocals), Steve’s son-in-law, Joe Foy (bass/vocals), and Bob Harvell (sax/reeds/flute).

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Practicing and Listening to Music Can Slow Cognitive Decline in Healthy Seniors by Producing More Gray Matter

in Health/People 155 views

Listening to music or playing an instrument can delay cognitive decline as we age—by producing gray matter in the brain—a new study shows.

The researchers followed over 100 retired people who had never practiced music before. They were enrolled in piano and music awareness training for six months, which when finished resulted in an increase in working memory performance by 6% and a total reduction in gray matter loss in the piano playing group.

Taken altogether, the scientists believe that while musical interventions cannot rejuvenate the brain, they can prevent aging in specific regions, specifically in people with no musical background who start playing in their senior years.

As the brain ages, it loses a trait that everybody who wants to understand a little about their own neurology should remember—neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the measurement of the brain’s ability to flex and work on different tasks by enhancing neuronal connections and creating new ones to suit new tasks.

Key among neuroplasticity is working memory, which describes the kind of mental effort needed to remember a whole phone number long enough to be able to reach the pen and paper to write it down, or translate a sentence from a foreign language.

A team from the University of Geneva wanted to see how much the musical domain could prevent this loss of working memory associated with age-related cognitive decline.

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DPAO’s concert season includes classics, country hit makers and ‘Nutcracker on Ice,’ twice

in Entertainment 246 views

A battle of rock ’n’ roll tribute bands, the classic rock band Styx and a platinum-selling country duo are among the acts announced Thursday by the Disabled Persons Action Organization for its annual concert series.

First up is “Beatles vs. Stones — A Musical Showdown,” set for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown. Taking the side of the Beatles is Abbey Road, one of the country’s top tribute bands. They engage in a musical “showdown” of the hits against premier Stones tribute band Satisfaction. The act is a national touring show.

The multi mega-million selling band STYX will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 1, indoors at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena. Styx draws from over four decades chart hits, joyous singalongs and hard-driving deep cuts. Styx signed their first recording contract on Feb. 22, 1972. Among their hits: “The Grand Illusion,” “Renegade,” “Suite Madame Blue,” “Rockin’ The Paradise,” “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” “Too Much Time On My Hands” and “Come Sail Away.”

The band’s 17th album, “Crash of the Crown,” was released in 2021. There are two original members of the band who still tour with it.

Academy of Country Music new vocal duo/group of the year nominee Parmalee will perform at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16. Parmalee is one of only four groups since 2001 to earn three consecutive top 10 Singles from a debut country album. Brothers Matt and Scott Thomas grew up in the small town of Paramele, North Carolina. They are joined by cousin Barry Knox and longtime friend Josh McSwain. Parmalee’s hits include “Carolina,” “Close Your Eyes,” “Already Callin’ You Mine” and “Roots.” The band’s latest album is “For You,” released in 2021.

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Music Helps Reconnect Elderly Patients with their Memories in New Study

in Entertainment/Health/People 360 views

When Paul McCartney wrote “Get Back,” he never would have predicted how useful or relevant the song would become for music therapists.

The song’s refrain—“Get back to where you once belonged”—might as well be a therapist encouraging a dementia patient to recall a distant memory. In new research, Psyche Loui, an associate professor of music, is attempting to do exactly that.

Loui found that for older adults who listened to some of their favorite music, including The Beatles, connectivity in the brain increased. Specifically, Loui—and her multi-disciplinary team of music therapists, neurologists and geriatric psychiatrists—discovered that music bridged the gap between the brain’s auditory system and reward system, the area that governs motivation.

“There’s something about music that is this functional connectivity between the auditory and reward system, and that’s why music is so special and able to tap into these seemingly very general cognitive functions that are suddenly very engaged in folks with dementia who are hearing music,” said Loui, who directs the Music Imaging and Neural Dynamics Lab, and whose paper was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

The original idea for this research came out of Loui’s own experiences playing music in nursing homes. She recalled how people who couldn’t finish a sentence or thought would suddenly harmonize and sing along to a song she was playing.

“[Music] seems to engage the brain in this way that’s different than everything else,” Loui said.

The researchers had a group of older adults between the ages of 54 and 89 from the Boston area listen to a playlist for an hour every day for eight weeks and journal about their response to the music afterward.

Loui and the team would scan the participants’ brains before and after listening in order to measure their neurological response.

Playlists were highly personalized and featured a combination of the participants’ self-selected songs, which ranged from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen, and a preselected mix of classical pieces, pop and rock songs and new compositions created by Hubert Ho, an associate teaching professor of music at Northeastern. Participants would then rate each song based on how much they liked it and how familiar it was.

“The most important lesson that we learned from the music therapist was that there is no one-size-fits-all for what kind of music works best,” Loui said.

What the researchers found was striking: music was essentially creating a channel directly between the auditory center and the medial prefrontal cortex, the brain’s reward center and one of the areas to lose its activity and functional connectivity in aging adults, especially in folks with dementia, Loui said.

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