Music therapy and neuroscience from parallel histories to converging pathways

Shannon K. De L'etoile, A. Blythe Lagasse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article briefly explores the histories of neuroscience and music therapy, thus revealing parallel developments and unique ways that the two professions have benefited each other. The origins of both disciplines can be traced back to beliefs held by ancient civilizations regarding brain activity, human movement, and the therapeutic value of music. The two professions also underwent significant change following World War II when political and medical issues led to improvements in brain imaging technology and human motion analysis, as well as the identification of music therapy as a viable profession. A movement toward Evidence-Based Practice in the 21st century coincided with a surge in research regarding brain function and music. Results helped to explain brain behavior in response to music and revealed the underlying scientific mechanisms for music therapy interventions, thus transforming the profession. Neuroscience and music therapy now share an expressed commitment to effective treatment of brain disorders, thereby supporting future collaborative efforts in the best interest of client care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-14
Number of pages9
JournalMusic Therapy Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Music
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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