How Music Stimulates the Unconscious Mind
Researchers are using music to light up unconscious minds, but the results only bring more questions about its effectiveness for coma patients.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Music plays with the brain in interesting ways. For instance, past studies have shown listening to a familiar, favorite song causes our brain to release dopamine — a chemical associated with pleasure and reward. However, some researchers believe music could be utilized to boost cognition in unconscious minds.
Alexandra Ossola from Braindecoder writes about the curious case of seven-year-old Charlotte Neve. In 2012, she had a had a brain hemorrhage while she was sleeping. Surgeons were able to stop the bleeding, but she had several seizures after and slipped into a coma. Ossola writes about her astounding recovery:
“Charlotte's mother, Leila, was at her bedside listening to the radio when Adele's hit 'Rolling In The Deep' started playing. Leila and Charlotte had sung the song together many times and, as Leila sang along to her unconscious daughter, she saw Charlotte smile. The doctors were stunned. Over the next two days, Charlotte recovered more of her faculties — she could talk, focus on colors, and get out of bed.”
It's uncertain if this recovery was caused by the music or if the entire thing was just a coincidence. However, it has become the basis of a recent study where researchers played music to 13 patients — all in comas for different reasons. The researchers split the patients into two groups; in one, the researchers played some of the patient's preferred music and in the other, researchers played a continuous sound to act as the control. Then, the researchers measured the patients' brains with an electroencephalograph (EEG) while they called the patient's name.
The researchers wrote in their paper:
“The cerebral response to the patient's first name was more often observed in the music condition, than in the control condition.”
These results have led researchers to demonstrate “that music has a beneficial effect on cognitive processes of patients with disorders of consciousness. The autobiographical characteristics of music, that is, its emotional and personal relevance, probably increase arousal and/or awareness.”
It's possible that this kind of familiar stimuli could help victims with brain trauma repair certain neural pathways. Past instances have also shown calling a patient's name shows increased brain activity. But it's uncertain. The unconscious mind is such a mystery — hopefully, one researchers will be able to figure out how to repair in the future.
Read more about the study at Braindecoder.
Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Flickr
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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