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Grammy Grant Funds Music and Brain Study

April 16, 2015

When most people think about the Grammys they envision music's elite gathering to celebrate a year of achievements. For Joke Bradt, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies and certified music therapist, that vision includes music therapies and brain imaging.

Belgian-born Bradt recently received grant funding from the Grammy Foundation to support her research project set to begin this September. Bradt's study will focus on the impact music therapy has on the brain when treating soldiers diagnosed with PTSD. It will also fill a gap that currently exists in the research.

"We don't have any brain imaging studies yet that have looked at the impact of music on the brains of people with PTSD or soldiers with PTSD, so this will be the first study doing this," say Bradt. She hopes to determine whether or not music therapy impacts emotional regulation for those with the diagnosis, an advancement that could positively affect how therapists approach and provide care.

Based on the existing neuroscience literature, Bradt predicts that her music therapy sessions will have positive effects on the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain which help control emotion, behavior and adrenaline flow. "If results are positive, this could have implications for helping soldiers with PTSD with emotional regulation via a very accessible medium," says Bradt.

At the end of the day, the Fulbright Scholar hopes her study achieves three goals: helping soldiers with PTSD, legitimizing the field of music therapy, and increasing access to music therapy services. "Listening to music will not cure PTSD, of course, but we hope we can teach soldiers specific techniques to use music effectively for emotional regulations."