NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

‘Sound Health’

NIH-Kennedy Center Initiative Expands

Collins and Fleming smile.
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor-at-Large Renée Fleming enjoy discussion at Sound Health summit.

Through a new partnership, NIH and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will expand on an initiative that NIH has had with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) for several years called Sound Health. Scientists are already investigating how music can be used to help cancer patients fight anxiety about treatments, help children with autism learn communication skills and help people with Parkinson’s disease walk in a steady rhythm. But there is much still to be learned.

Eminent scholars and researchers convened a workshop at NIH on Jan. 26-27 to discuss the evidence of how music is processed in the brain and used as therapy.

The new collaboration will broaden the scope of Sound Health to include current knowledge and understanding of how listening to, performing or creating music involves intricate circuitry in the brain that could be harnessed for health and wellness applications in daily life; explore ways to enhance the potential for music as therapy for neurological disorders; identify future opportunities for research; and create public awareness about how the brain functions and interacts with music.

Four individuals seated at a conference table
At the 2-day January workshop launching the in-depth collaboration, NIH scientists Dr. Bob Finkelstein (l) of NINDS and Dr. Emmeline Edwards of NCCIH join Collins and Fleming, renowned soprano, for a discussion on music and neuroscience.

Photo:  Credit Ernie Branson

As a result of the workshop, NIH will identify areas of science that provide the greatest opportunity to validate current findings and advance knowledge about when and how music can be an effective treatment. Findings will be presented at a public event at the Kennedy Center on June 2-3 called Sound Health: Music and the Mind. The event will feature performances by the NSO and interactive presentations and discussions with some of the world’s leading minds working at the intersection of neuroscience and music.

The NSO will continue to perform regularly for patients, doctors, nurses, visitors and staff at the Clinical Center.

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The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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Assistant Editor: Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder
Amber.Snyder@nih.gov (link sends e-mail)