Sound Health Network Launches to Advance Music and Health Research

A growing chorus of scientists, researchers, musicians, clinicians, and patients interested in music and health now have a new network to help bring them together.

On Tuesday, January 26, the Sound Health Network launched with an hourlong online event featuring renowned researchers like Francis Collins and clinicians like Sanjay Gupta alongside world-class musicians like Renée Fleming, Esperanza Spalding, and Quetzal Flores.

The Sound Health Network comes at a time of great interest in understanding how music can treat illness and aid healing. There is already accumulating scientific evidence that shows how music can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mobility and memory, and build connections and cohesion amongst people. For patients, music can also boost resilience and quality of life and aid in recovery following surgical treatments.

In 2019, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as part of its Sound Health Initiative, awarded $20 million over five years to support novel research in music and health. The initiative currently funds 54 scientists exploring how music affects the brain and body and how it can be applied to treat neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and more.

“Music does have incredible power to rearrange your insides, rearrange your thoughts, heal your body.” ~ Singer Bobby McFerrin

The Sound Health Network is a multidisciplinary endeavor and a partnership of the National Endowment of the Arts and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center and the NIH. UCSF professors Julene Johnson and Charles Limb are the Network’s Co-Directors.

By providing a common virtual meeting ground and resource for interested professional groups, the Network seeks to foster more opportunities for collaboration and innovation and advance the field of music and health.

The website hosts a regularly updated “clearinghouse” of ongoing research projects funded by the Sound Health initiative and a database of key publications on music and health research.

In addition, the Network will include tools to connect people from diverse disciplines through affinity groups, where they may explore common research interests and find new potential collaborators. To help grow the bench of talent in the field, students can also use these tools to find one another and communicate with leading researchers and music practitioners.

Finally, the Network has regularly planned events and gatherings, including a monthly webinar designed to facilitate discussion between disciplines involved in the field. The first of these webinars, scheduled for February 24, will cover “Using Music Therapy to Help Manage Symptoms in Cancer.” A virtual journal club series, described as a book club for research papers, will also be offered to encourage cross-disciplinary education and discussion about new and cornerstone scientific findings at the intersection of music and health.

“Music does have incredible power to rearrange your insides, rearrange your thoughts, heal your body,” said singer Bobby McFerrin at the opening of the launch event.

Through the Sound Health Network, researchers, doctors, music therapists, musicians, and patients now have another way of finding one another and harnessing the unique powers of music to improve our individual and collective health.

Watch the entire launch event here:

Lead Image: Sound Health Network

Written and reported by IAM Lab Communications Specialist Richard Sima. Richard received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins and is a science writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. 

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