Department

Zoology and Physiology

First Advisor

Dr. Meg Flanigan Skinner

Description

Neurodegenerative diseases involve the gradual loss of neuronal functioning over time; such diseases include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. The cause of these disorders is often idiopathic and treatment options are limited. Progressions of these diseases may lead to Locked-in-Syndrome, where an individual is aware of their environment but unable to communicate due to paralysis. The impact often leads to further comorbidities and an overall lower quality of life. I investigated recent scientific literature on how music has been, and could be, used as form of therapy to benefit those with neurodegenerative disorders. Certain types of music therapy have been shown to significantly help cognitive and physical functioning in those with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, while also serving as a form of comfort care. Furthermore, a new type of eye tracking technology allows individuals with complete paralysis to compose and deliver a musical performance through accessing brainwaves and eye movements. This technology allows individuals to deepen environmental engagement and potentially improving emotional well-being. Finally, this research illuminates possibilities for music therapy to become a standard means for supporting individuals with neurodegenerative disorders.

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Music: a key for unlocking Locked-in-Syndrome and improving the quality of life for those with neurodegenerative diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases involve the gradual loss of neuronal functioning over time; such diseases include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. The cause of these disorders is often idiopathic and treatment options are limited. Progressions of these diseases may lead to Locked-in-Syndrome, where an individual is aware of their environment but unable to communicate due to paralysis. The impact often leads to further comorbidities and an overall lower quality of life. I investigated recent scientific literature on how music has been, and could be, used as form of therapy to benefit those with neurodegenerative disorders. Certain types of music therapy have been shown to significantly help cognitive and physical functioning in those with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, while also serving as a form of comfort care. Furthermore, a new type of eye tracking technology allows individuals with complete paralysis to compose and deliver a musical performance through accessing brainwaves and eye movements. This technology allows individuals to deepen environmental engagement and potentially improving emotional well-being. Finally, this research illuminates possibilities for music therapy to become a standard means for supporting individuals with neurodegenerative disorders.