The Influence of Music and Music Therapy on Pain-induced Neuronal Oscillations Measured by Magnetencephalography






Modern forms of music therapy are clinically established for various therapeutic or rehabilitative goals, especially in the treatment of chronic pain. However, little is known about the neuronal mechanisms that underlie pain modulation by music. Therefore, we attempted to characterize the effects of music therapy on pain perception by comparing the effects of 2 different therapeutic concepts, referred to as receptive and entrainment methods, on cortical activity recorded by magnetencephalography in combination with laser heat pain. Listening to preferred music within the receptive method yielded a significant reduction of pain ratings associated with a significant power reduction of delta-band activity in the cingulate gyrus, which suggests that participants displaced their focus of attention away from the pain stimulus. On the other hand, listening to self-composed "pain music" and "healing music" within the entrainment method exerted major effects on gamma-band activity in primary and secondary somatosensory cortices. Pain music, in contrast to healing music, increased pain ratings in parallel with an increase in gamma-band activity in somatosensory brain structures. In conclusion, our data suggest that the 2 music therapy approaches operationalized in this study seem to modulate pain perception through at least 2 different mechanisms, involving changes of activity in the delta and gamma bands at different stages of the pain processing system.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Experimentally Induced Pain; Music Entrainment; Music Listening; Music Therapy; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Receptive Music Methods; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures

Indexed Terms

Acoustic Stimulation; Analysis of Variance; Attention; Brain Mapping; Brain Waves; Magnetoencephalography; Pain; Pain Measurement; Pain Threshold; Reaction Time; Spectrum Analysis

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

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