Music and the Brain Think Tank

The State of Music Based Interventions for Mental Illness

A large body of literature supports the importance of music on brain development and function, but key questions about dose, timing, and types of music that promote brain health remain unanswered. Part of the challenge is the multidisciplinary nature of this research and difficulties in synthesizing findings across different fields including psychology, neurology, psychiatry, music, and public health.

With this as a focus, In March 2020, One Mind and the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine convened the first Music and the Brain Think Tank meeting, gathering 36 of the top international experts to expand and complement NIH research by consolidating and advancing the evidence related to music’s role in the prevention and treatment of serious mental illness.

Made up of thought leaders and experts across nine different disciplines, the Think Tank provided suggestions on how to strengthen the field of NeuroArts research and how to address key questions related to music therapy as an intervention for mental illness.

As a follow up to the meeting, the International Arts + Mind Lab analyzed the focus groups discussions amongst the think tank participants, publishing their peer-reviewed findings earlier this month in the Community Mental Health Journal.

Six themes were uncovered in the analysis:

  • Barriers to Quality/Improved Research
  • Disciplinary Differences
  • Research Recommendations
  • Implementation and Access
  • Public Perception and Education
  • Need for Training

In response to the study’s illumination of the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary work, the IAM Lab also offered four brief recommendations to support future efforts.

Read the article: The State of Music-Based Interventions for Mental Illness: Thought Leaders on Barriers, Opportunities, and the Value of Interdisciplinarity

The need for innovative and accessible approaches to mental health support has grown exponentially in the wake of the pandemic. We are proud and hopeful that the conversations within the Think Tank and the findings that came from it will be a springboard for moving this interdisciplinary work forward in service of better mental health and wellbeing.