New research could lead to doctors prescribing music to treat pain

08 September 2010

New research could lead to doctors prescribing music to treat pain

New research could lead to doctors prescribing music to treat pain

NEW research at Glasgow Caledonian University into how music conveys emotion could benefit the treatment of depression and the management of physical pain.

Using an innovative combination of music psychology and leading-edge audio engineering the project is looking in more detail than ever before at how music conveys emotion.

The project called ‘Emotion Classification in Contemporary Music’ is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The research could lead to advances in the use of music to help regulate a person’s mood, and promote the development of music-based therapies to tackle conditions like depressive illnesses. It could also help alleviate symptoms for people who are in physical pain and even lead to doctors putting music that is tailored to suit the needs of an individual on a prescription.

“The impact of a piece of music on a person goes so much further than thinking that a fast tempo can lift a mood and a slow one can bring it down. Music expresses emotion as a result of many factors,” says audio engineering specialist Dr Don Knox, project leader. “These include the tone, structure and other technical characteristics of a piece. Lyrics can have a big impact too. But so can purely subjective factors: where or when you first heard it, whether you associate it with happy or sad events and so on. Our project is the first step towards taking all of these considerations – and the way they interact with each other – on board.”

View: The Emotion Classification in Contemporary Music project on You Tube.

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