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Posts Tagged ‘tom jacobs’

The blogger at A Musical Life on Planet Earth — who has been healing from an injury suffered when he nearly tripped on an eager toddler in a music class — doesn’t need to be told that music is healing.

But for the rest of us, a new study from Greece on music and heart health might be enlightening. Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard, “There are many ways of reducing your risk of a heart attack. A healthy diet. Regular exercise. And don’t forget your daily dose of Dylan or Debussy.

“A newly published, small-scale study from Greece finds listening to either classical or rock music positively impacts two important predictors of cardiovascular risk. The effects are particularly pronounced for classical music fans, who, in the study, had a more robust physiological response to music of either genre.

“ ‘These findings may have important implications, extending the spectrum of lifestyle modifications that can ameliorate arterial function,’ a research team led by cardiologist Charalambos Vlachopoulos of Athens Medical School writes in the journal Atherosclerosis. ‘Listening to music should be encouraged in everyday activities.’

“The pulse waves of one’s circulatory system and the rigidity of one’s arteries are related but independent predictors of morbidity and mortality. Essentially, the stiffer one’s blood vessel walls become, the greater the pulse pressure, and the harder the heart has to work to pump blood into the arteries. This can lead to higher blood pressure and an increased strain on the heart. …

“The participants, described as ’20 healthy individuals,’ visited the lab three times. On each occasion, baseline measurements of aortic stiffness and pulse wave reflections were taken following a half-hour rest period.

“They then either listened to a half-hour of classical music (primarily excerpts from J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suites); a half-hour of rock (including tracks by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Green Day); or a similar period of silence. …

“The key result: both indicators were lower after participants listened to either genre of music. … More at Pacific Standard here.

And you can listen to to Will McMillan’s healing singing at A Musical Life on Planet Earth, here.

Will McMillan

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Research highlighted at Pacific Standard sometimes strikes me as a little lightweight, but I am happy to endorse a study that Tom Jacobs covered recently, because I have some personal experience. It’s about the benefits of both cultural activities and Internet usage for older people.

Jacobs writes, “A new British study of people age 50 and older finds a link between health literacy — defined as ‘the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information’ — and two specific behaviors: Regular use of the Internet, and participation in cultural activities.

“ ‘Loss of health literacy skills during aging is not inevitable, a research team led by Lindsay Kobayashi of University College London writes in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health. ‘Internet use and engagement in various social activities, in particular cultural activities, appear to help older adults maintain the literary skills required to self-manage health.’

“The study used data on 4,368 men and women age 50 or older who participated in the English Longitudinal Study on Aging. Their health literacy was measured two years after they joined the project, and again five years later, by having them read a fictitious medicine-bottle label and then answer four reading-comprehension questions.”

I am over 50, enjoy cultural events and the Internet, and understand most medicine bottle labels. So there you go. It’s all true.

Get the key details at Pacific Standard.

Photo: Popova Valeriya/Shutterstock 

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Prov-RI-Children-Museum

Here’s research showing that creativity can make people feel good.

Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard, “In a study of college students, ‘people who reported feeling happy and active were more likely to be doing something creative at the time,’ a research team led by Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro writes in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

“What’s more, the researchers add, you don’t have to be a master poet or painter to reap the emotional rewards. Even if the results of one’s creative activity are ‘frivolous, amateurish or weird,’ this research suggests ”the creative process that yielded them appears important to positive psychological development.’ ”

After taking a survey about themselves and their creative activities, participants were “called on their cell phones eight times a day for the next seven days. They replied to each call by answering the question ‘Are you doing something creative?’ and describing their emotional state at that moment. …

“ ‘We found that the frequency of doing something creative was quite high — around 22 percent,’ Silvia and his colleagues report. What’s more, when participants were caught in the act of being creative, ‘they reported feeling significantly happier and more active’ than at other reports.” More here.

OK, I admit it sounds like a pretty slim study, but I’ll take it. I especially like the idea that it still counts if the creative activity is “frivolous, amateurish or weird”!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Tom Jacobs alerted me to a piece he published at Pacific Standard, a publication that reports on studies in the social sciences.

Newly published research, he says, provides some support for the notion that children by nature want to help others.

“ ‘From an early age, humans seem to have genuine concern for the welfare of others,’ concludes a research team led by Robert Hepach of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. …

“But how exactly do you discover a toddler’s motivation? The researchers took a novel approach: by looking straight into his or her eyes.

“They note that our pupils enlarge in response to emotionally stimulating sights, and deduced this could provide an indication of what specifically prompts kids to perk up and take notice. Are they aroused by the sight of someone in need—or, perhaps, by the realization that they could play the hero by helping?

“Their experiment featured 36 2-year-olds, who viewed a scene in which an adult needed help reaching for a can or crayon. One-third of the children were allowed by their parents to help the person in need (almost all did so); another third were held back from providing assistance.”

Curious? Read more.

(By the way, the same institute was behind some research that Alan Alda featured on the PBS show The Human Spark, here.)

Photograph: Two-year-old meeting his cousin’s need for conversation.

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Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard reports on new research into the benefits of music for children.

“Music education produces myriad benefits,” he writes, “strengthening kids’ abilities in reading, math, and verbal intelligence. New British research suggests it may also teach something less tangible, but arguably just as important: The ability to empathize.

“In a year-long program focused on group music-making, 8- to 11-year old children became markedly more compassionate, according to a just-published study from the University of Cambridge. The finding suggests kids who make music together aren’t just having fun: they’re absorbing a key component of emotional intelligence.”

The research team was led by Tal-Chen Rabinowitch of the university’s Centre for Music and Science. Read more.

Photograph: Pete Pahham/Shutterstock

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Thank you ArtsJournal.com for another good link!

Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard offers new evidence from the National Endowment for the Arts that arts education is associated with better overall student performance.

“Students from the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder,” he writes, “tend to do less well in school than those from more upscale families. But newly published research identifies one sub-group of these youngsters who tend to exceed expectations: those who participate heavily in the arts.

“ ‘At-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied,’ a team of scholars writes in a new National Endowment for the Arts Research Report. ‘These findings suggest that in-school or extracurricular programs offering deep arts involvement may help to narrow the gap in achievement levels among youth.’ ” Read more.

Doesn’t surprise me that the arts can do that. But I think the key word here may be intensive. What do you think?

Photograph: Richard Thornton/Shutterstock

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Mice find Verdi and Mozart more healing than Enya. Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune (now called Pacific Standard) explains.

“Writing in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery,” he says, “a team of Japanese researchers led by Dr. Masanori Nimi describe an experiment in which a group of 8- to 12-week-old mice underwent heart transplants. The rodents were randomly assigned to one of five groups: those exposed to opera (a recording of Verdi’s La Traviata, conducted by Sir Georg Solti); instrumental music by Mozart; New Age music (The Best of Enya); no music; or ‘one of six different sound frequencies.’

“After one week, the mice whose personal soundtrack featured Enya, one of the sound frequencies, or no music at all ‘rejected their grafts acutely,’ the researchers report. …

“In contrast, those exposed to Verdi or Mozart ‘had significantly prolonged survival.’ …

“In explaining the results, the researchers point to the immune system. They report exposure to classical music generated regulatory cells, which suppress immune responses and are thus vital to preventing rejection of a transplanted organ. …

“In any event, this provides more evidence that classical music has a health-inducing impact on the body.” Read more.

Hmmm. You want to suppress your immune system when you have a transplant because you don’t want your body to reject an organ from a donor. But suppose you want a strong immune system for some other reason? Would classical music be bad for you (or a mouse) in that case? Hard to get my head around that one.

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