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Music & the Brain Workshop Summary

March 26, 2018 03:34 PM

NIH Workshop, “Music and the Brain” Paves the Way for Increased Music Therapy Research

NIH2Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, Deborah Rutter, Director of the Kennedy Center, and renowned soprano, Renée Fleming, serving as an artistic ambassador for the Kennedy Center and Artist Spokesperson for AMTA, sponsored an historic research workshop, “Music and the Brain: Research Across the Lifespan,” on January 26-27, 2017.

Attended by some 100 participants, the NIH workshop included 25 panelists, of whom eight were music therapists: Joke Bradt, Christian Gold, Deforia Lane, Sheri Robb, Ed Roth, Elizabeth Stegemoller, Michael Thaut, and Connie Tomaino.

Dr. Robb’s opening keynote, “Advancing the Science of Music Therapy in Healthcare,” established a strong foundation about music therapy as a profession and provided an overview of the state of music therapy research. A second keynote was presented by Dr. Nina Kraus, “Making Sense of Sound for Communication and Brain Health.” AMTA national office staff, Dr. Andi Farbman, Barbara Else, and Judy Simpson collaborated with planners to provide a comprehensive picture of music therapy research.

Click here to see the Speaker Directory

NIH3NIH was well represented by the Office of the Director and key scientists from twelve of its twenty seven institutes/centers including:

  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • National Institute on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease
  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Biomedical Engineering
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Diseases
  • National Institute of Drug Abuse
  • National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • National Institute of Nursing Research
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

Click here to see the Agenda

NIH1Dr. Collins summed up the meeting by stating that it was an “amazing outpouring of information and a wonderful body of knowledge on music therapy and the neuroscience of music.” He acknowledged that music therapists and neuroscientists have been working on parallel paths; it is now time, however, for them to work in much closer proximity and collaborate to advance the science. A trans-NIH working group, which is quite unusual, to explore the topic of music and the brain on a variety of questions including therapeutic applications and music therapy, is a possible next step.

The Kennedy Center hosted a special companion event June 2-3, 2017 to increase public awareness of the importance and benefits of music and health and music therapy with a National Symphony Orchestra concert and one-day symposium. Information on this exciting event may be found at:

A brief summary of the proceedings is now available and published in the journal, Neuron. AMTA extends its gratitude to our esteemed colleagues who contributed to this important event.