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Monday, July 28, 2008

Music in Life

Music can complement neurological disorder management, says expert Special Correspondent
“Evidence shows music therapy constitutes an important branch of modern medicine”
— Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

CLARIFYING DOUBTS: Neurologist Krishnamoorthy Srinivas answering a question from the audience after a talk on “Mind, Stress, Music and Health,” the first in a lecture series, at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Chennai on Sunday.

CHENNAI: Music can complement the management of neurological disorders, but should not be regarded as a panacea, neurologist Krishnamoorthy Srinivas said on Sunday.

Launching a series of medical lectures in connection with the golden jubilee celebrations of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Dr. Srinivas, chairman-Emeritus of the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Voluntary Health Services, said the emerging body of evidence was substantive enough to show that music therapy, though debatable, constituted an important branch of modern medicine.

In a lecture on “Mind, Stress, Music and Health,” he pointed to the findings of a study he led in association with the IIT-Madras, in which a group of patients with no previous initiation into classical music were exposed to ‘tala’ cycles on the mridangam even as a functional MRI scan mapped their brain functions.

In the talk interspersed with snatches of music ranging from K. L. Saigal to M. S. Subbulakshmi, Dr. Srinivas said the study showed that exposure to a repetitive music rhythm triggered a “willed action” that involved attention, concentration, intentionality and a learning process, even in the musically naïve group.

“Importantly, the study showed that the location of memory in the brain is more diffused than localised,” he said.

This marked a departure from Western understanding of the memory function. Several studies, especially from Harvard University, appeared to illustrate how early initiation into music (7-8 years) helped individuals develop faculties sharper than others.

The senior neurologist had a few words of advice for the young and the old.

While the elderly would do well to practise anger management, exercise in moderation and try to understand and accommodate the culture of youth, youngsters should rein in their ambition, avoid cut-throat competition and spoiling their health by the time they reached the age of 40.

Courtesy The Hindu dated 28.7.2008