Researchers can turn a person’s brain waves into music notes using a computerized mathematical formula. Some experts say that those notes can heal. When you play the “relaxing” file on your brain music CD, your brain tells your body to relax. When you listen to your “activating” or “energy” file, the theory is that you’ll feel more alert. Called brain music therapy, this treatment has been used by thousands of patients worldwide to treat anxiety, insomnia, even depression.
Dr. Galina Mindlin, a neuro-psychiatrist with Brain Music Therapy Center in New York City brought this treatment to the U.S. from Moscow. Dr. Mindlin was interviewed on “Today,” about this treatment. “Today” on MSNBC.com asked Dr. Mindlin to give us more details on how this therapy works and to tell us if Madonna’s brain waves would sound like a Tibetan monk’s. Here's our interview:
MSNBC.com: How do you turn brain waves into music?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Brain waves are translated into music digitally with a special algorithm. It took many years and the effort of a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, researchers, mathematicians and musicians led by Dr. Iakov Levine to develop this algorithm. Once the brain waves are converted into musical sounds, they are placed on a CD with a relaxing file and activating file and instructions on how to use them.
MSNBC.com: What does it sound like?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: It sounds like classical piano music.
MSNBC.com: Do our brain waves sound different? Would a Tibetan monk’s and Madonna’s brain waves sound similar?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Yes, they would sound different. The Tibetan monk and Madonna’s brain waves would not sound the same. An individual’s brain wave pattern is unique. The musical sounds, which are converted from brain wave patterns, are highly individualized as well. In double-blinded studies there were two groups. One group listened to their own brain music therapy CD, while the second group listened to a brain music therapy CD of another person. The important fact is that the results showed that individuals in the group listening to their own CDs significantly exceeded the effectiveness of those who listened to other CDs.
MSNBC.com: How was it discovered that brain wave music can relax patients?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Brain music therapy is a form of neurofeedback, which is based on a variable ratio of fast and slow rhythms. The predominance of individual’s slow rhythms corresponds to the relaxing, soothing mindset. Just as our brain is capable of recognizing a familiar sound, like your own voice, it is capable of recognizing a deeply imbedded sound of its own brain waves.
MSNBC.com: Since brain wave music sounds like classical piano music, could conventional music have the same results?
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Again, the brain music therapy effect is based on highly personalized musical frequencies. Another important fact is that a high majority of the patients (we have seen more then 600 patients for the past year and a half) admitted that the therapy is much more potent then just conventional music. We did not see people who were able to reduce or stop medications after listening to conventional music.
MSNBC.com: Who would benefit from brain music therapy?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Brain music therapy helps people suffering from insomnia, anxiety, and mood disorders, and stress related conditions. It alleviates migraine and tension headaches, as well as drug withdrawal symptoms. Brain music therapy increases attention span, concentration and improves productivity in people with attention deficit disorder. It also helps people fight their social and performance anxieties.
Brain music therapy could be an invaluable tool for pilots who suffer from pilot fatigue syndrome; military personnel who have to function at the optimum level in highly contrived situations, and others who have to overcome the disruption of their sleep-awake cycle. This group includes truck drivers, shift workers, travelers suffering from jet lag, and casino and club workers. It also increases peak performance in athletes and workers trying to get through stressful days.
MSNBC.com: Can brain music therapy be used to create other reactions? Increased creativity? More energy?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Our brain emits both fast and slow waves. By arranging predominantly fast waves we are able to create an activating file as well. It increases attention span, boosts a person’s energy, and improves productivity. We have musicians and artists who specifically reported increased creativity.
MSNBC.com: How long do the results last?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: The majority of people report a sustained effect of brain music therapy. Since brain wave patterns change, we recommend coming for a second recording in two to three months. The second recording based on our colleagues’ reports around the world lasts approximately two to three years or more.
MSNBC.com: Are there any famous people who have used it?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Due to confidentiality agreements, I am not in a position to discuss this. We are in discussions with various sports teams, and athletes as brain music therapy has been found to increase an athlete’s ability to achieve peak performance.
MSNBC.com: Do you use brain music therapy?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: Yes, I do. I find my relaxing file very helpful after a busy, overwhelming day, when it is hard to fall asleep right away. The relaxing file simply helps me to shut down my mind and fall asleep. If I need extra energy during a long day I listen to my activating file, which stops me from reaching for another cup of coffee. Instead of a “coffee break,” I have a “brain music therapy break!”
MSNBC.com: Do you think that brain music therapy will eventually replace medications for many patients?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: This is already happening. My patients as well as those of my colleagues around the country have patients who have been able to reduce the dosage of medication they are taking or completely stop using medication altogether. Brain music therapy can be used by itself or complimentary to medications or any other treatment modalities the patient is on.
MSNBC.com: What do you say to skeptics?
Dr. Galina Mindlin: I suggest that they try it for themselves. There are no side effects, nor is it addictive.
If you’d like more information on brain music therapy and centers where it is available, check out www.brainmusictreatment.com.
© 2013 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints