Indian classical music improves cognitive functions in schizophrenia patients: Study

While the therapeutic effect of music has been acknowledged over the years, researchers from NIMHANS have found that listening to Indian classical music has beneficial effects in improving cognitive functions of patients with schizophrenia.

The study titled “Effect of music listening on P300 event-related potential in patients with schizophrenia: A pilot study” was recently published in Schizophrenia Research, a peer-reviewed journal. The study was carried out in the Music Cognition Laboratory at NIMHANS by a team of researchers led by Shantala Hegde, associate professor in Neuropsychology and faculty in charge of Music Cognition Laboratory.

The researchers, who claimed that this was a first of its kind study, examined the effects of Indian classical music on 20 male patients between 18 and 45 years diagnosed with schizophrenia. The patients were recruited from the out-patient and in-patient clinical services of the institute. They were made to listen to instrumental rendition Hindustani Classical Raag Bhoopali by musicians Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia for 10 minutes.

Brain electrical activity was recorded using 32 channels through Electroencephalograph – (EEG) – Evoked Response Potential (ERP) method. “This specific method is used to study how their attention improves when they listen to music known as P300. P300 is an indication of brain activity 300 milliseconds after a specific stimulus, indicating attention and working memory. Patients also showed improved reaction time and better performance on attention tasks after listening to music. There was an increase in amplitude in the electrodes in the temporal region,” Dr. Hegde told The Hindu.

“A trend of increased amplitude was noted across all electrodes in the music condition compared to the rest condition. Mean amplitude showed significant changes in the frontal and central electrode sites. Power spectral analysis indicated a slight increase in frontal and central alpha and theta activity during music listening,” she explained.

The authors of the study acknowledged that this is a very promising finding. “Future studies on similar lines can be helpful in providing a scientific basis for music-based interventions to target cognitive deficits and emotional deficit patients suffering from neuropsychiatric conditions. Improving cognitive functions is an important part of the treatment to help patients get back to their near normal or normal occupational and social functioning,” Dr. Hegde said.

“To the best of our knowledge, no study yet has examined the effect of one-time music listening on P300 in patients with schizophrenia. So far, music therapy in schizophrenia has been predominantly carried out from a social science model targeting overall mental health, quality of life as well as positive and negative symptoms and not much from a neuroscience model targeting cognitive functions,” she added.

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Printable version | May 13, 2022 11:51:27 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/indian-classical-music-improves-cognitive-functions-in-schizophrenia-patients-study/article30785285.ece