Neurologic Music Therapy
Updated: Oct 8
On March 31st, I presented on the topic of music therapy with neurological disorders during our third Open Studio workshop. During my presentation, I spoke about key definitions related music therapy, neurologic music therapy, and neurological disorders. I also talked about music and the brain, and gave an overview of specific neurologic music therapy (NMT) techniques that are facilitated by trained, NMT affiliates with persons who have a neurological disorder.
There is not one single “music center” in the brain. When we are engaged in music, our brains “light up” and become active. Several parts of the brain are involved in music processing and production. Neural networks that process music also process other functions, such as:
If a person experiences a deficit, degeneration, or damage to a certain part of their brain, they may struggle to function properly. Brain scans can often demonstrate which part or parts of the brain have a deficit, and this can help us to understand why a person may struggle with a certain function. Research shows that engaging in music can help individuals to strengthen their brain centers and neural pathways to enhance functioning.
Neuroplasticity s the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experience. Exposure and experience can create new connections between neurons. Our brains change in structure and function as a result of learning, training, and environmental influences – especially with music.
What is Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)?
Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is a research-based system of twenty standardized clinical techniques for cognitive, speech and language, and sensorimotor training. Therapeutic goals and interventions address rehabilitation, development, and maintenance of functional behaviors. NMT practitioners utilize the Transformational Design Model (TDM) to assess and treat individuals, and to transfer therapeutic learning to functional, “real world” applications. While NMT is just one subcategory of music therapy practice, there is much research that demonstrates the efficacy of NMT with neurologic disorders. If you are interested in learning more about NMT and/or receiving formalized NMT training, visit the NMT Academy website for more information.
Who can benefit from NMT services?
Music Therapists and Neurologic Music Therapists serve many communities, including:
Developmental and intellectual disability
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Cerebrovascular accident (CVA)/Stroke
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Those who are in comatose and/or emergence states … and more!