Apollo's gift: new aspects of neurologic music therapy

Prog Brain Res. 2015:217:237-52. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2014.11.029. Epub 2015 Feb 11.


Music listening and music making activities are powerful tools to engage multisensory and motor networks, induce changes within these networks, and foster links between distant, but functionally related brain regions with continued and life-long musical practice. These multimodal effects of music together with music's ability to tap into the emotion and reward system in the brain can be used to facilitate and enhance therapeutic approaches geared toward rehabilitating and restoring neurological dysfunctions and impairments of an acquired or congenital brain disorder. In this article, we review plastic changes in functional networks and structural components of the brain in response to short- and long-term music listening and music making activities. The specific influence of music on the developing brain is emphasized and possible transfer effects on emotional and cognitive processes are discussed. Furthermore, we present data on the potential of using musical tools and activities to support and facilitate neurorehabilitation. We will focus on interventions such as melodic intonation therapy and music-supported motor rehabilitation to showcase the effects of neurologic music therapies and discuss their underlying neural mechanisms.

Keywords: brain plasticity; melodic intonation therapy; music-supported training; neurologic music therapy; neurorehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Music / psychology*
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Nervous System Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*