The idea that music can calm us in times of stress is as old as, well, humming. But researchers now claim that inside your own brain is a blend of the best psychotherapist and Glenn Gould.
By transplanting their patients’ brain waves into music, researchers in Toronto have found a promising remedy for insomnia and anxiety-related disorders. Here’s how it works: First, researchers record the electromagnetic activity, or waves, in a patient’s brain. They separate the calming waves from the agitating ones and then, using a complex algorithm, translate those waves into a sequence of piano chords. The music is then put onto a CD.
There’s a cloyingly New Age sound to the music; one patient described it as “repetitive without a specific melody.” But it seems to work. In studies, stressed-out teachers found relief in listening to their own cerebral sonatas; insomniacs slept better.
(Source: Alternative Medicine Magazine, Jan/Feb 2003)