Music Therapy and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe neurological brain disorder estimated in 2014 to affect 1.1 percent of the population or approximately 2.6 million adults in the United States aged 18 or older. An estimated 40 percent of individuals with the condition are untreated in any given year. The symptoms of this disease are experiences that seem out of touch with reality, disorganized speech or behavior, memory loss, difficulty focusing, and decreased participation in daily activities.
In an experiment to further understand how music affects those with the disease, Sükran Ertekin Pinar and his researchers investigated the effects of music on the severity of the symptoms of Schizophrenia. Of 28 patients who were part of the experiment, 14 were placed in the music intervention group based on the Rast Tonality of Turkish music, which is said to affect the body “both physically and mentally, has effects on muscles, provides relaxation, and induces feelings of joy, peace, vitality, comfort, relief, and happiness,” and 14 were assigned to a non-music control group. According to Pinar, “the physical, mental, environmental, and national environmental domain scores of the quality of life in the experimental group increased at [the] sixth month”. Patients with auditory hallucinations experienced a greater outlook on life afterwards as music helped them cope with the symptom.
At the follow up, the researchers found reduced scores on measures of hallucinations in the experimental group compared with the scores from the control group. “In line with these results, listening to music may be recommended to cope with auditory hallucinations and to provide positive quality of life,” the researchers concluded.
Another similar study published in January of 2018 examined the effects of music on patients with Schizophrenia. The results they gathered, which were based on functional magnetic imaging techniques, demonstrated that the music intervention was linked to increased functional connectivity in the dorsal anterior insula and posterior insula networks after 1 month of intervention. “Together, these ﬁndings revealed that the insular cortex could potentially be an important region in music intervention for patients with schizophrenia, thus improving the patients’ psychiatric symptoms through normalizing the salience and sensorimotor networks,” the authors wrote.
In conclusion, the research demonstrates how music therapy can improve the communication, social functioning, cognitive behavior, and emotions of patients with Schizophrenia.