Effects of Music Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Study of Prefrontal Hemodynamic Functions Using Fnirs


Psychiatry Research




Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a recurrent, chronic mental illness. While music therapy has been established as an effective treatment for MDD patients, the effects of this therapy on brain function remain unclear. This research employed near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to explore the effects of music therapy on brain activity in mild or moderate MDD patients and to illustrate the potential mechanism of music therapy. Methods: Fifteen MDD patients and fifteen healthy controls (HC) underwent neuropsychological evaluations and NIRS measurements. All participants were treated with continuous music therapy for 10 days. Subsequently, all individuals were evaluated with neuropsychological assessments and NIRS measurements again. Results: The verbal fluency task (VFT) performances of the participants yielded significantly higher scores after music therapy in terms of vegetables, four-footed animals and fruit blocks. After the music treatment, the NIRS data showed that the mean active oxy-Hb values of channels 21, 23, 19, and 41 were significantly increased in both the MDD and HC groups. The MDD group showed significant activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) after music therapy. The results indicate that music therapy could improve the brain function of MDD patients.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Cognitive Abilities; Depression; Depressive Disorder; Mental Health; Mood Disorders; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Oxygen Saturation; Recorded Music Listening

Indexed Terms

Adolescents; Depressive Disorder, Major; Hemodynamics; Neuropsychological Tests; Prefrontal Cortex; Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared; Major depressive disorder; nirs; Near-infrared spectroscopy; Prefrontal cortex; Two-way mixed ANOVA; Verbal fluency task

Study Type

Quantitative Methods; Quasi-Experimental Study

PubMed ID


Document Type