Biological principles for music and mental health.

TitleBiological principles for music and mental health.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBowling DL
JournalTransl Psychiatry
Date Published2023 Dec 04
KeywordsHumans, Mental Health, Music, Neurosciences, Social Behavior

Efforts to integrate music into healthcare systems and wellness practices are accelerating but the biological foundations supporting these initiatives remain underappreciated. As a result, music-based interventions are often sidelined in medicine. Here, I bring together advances in music research from neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry to bridge music's specific foundations in human biology with its specific therapeutic applications. The framework I propose organizes the neurophysiological effects of music around four core elements of human musicality: tonality, rhythm, reward, and sociality. For each, I review key concepts, biological bases, and evidence of clinical benefits. Within this framework, I outline a strategy to increase music's impact on health based on standardizing treatments and their alignment with individual differences in responsivity to these musical elements. I propose that an integrated biological understanding of human musicality-describing each element's functional origins, development, phylogeny, and neural bases-is critical to advancing rational applications of music in mental health and wellness.

Alternate JournalTransl Psychiatry
PubMed ID38049408
PubMed Central IDPMC10695969
Grant ListK01 MH122730 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States