KABC Eyewitness News - Health

Music to your brain: Translated to musical notes, brainwaves prove soothing

Richard Guzman • September 5, 2007

Bruce Craig


Artist and social worker Bruce Craig explains during an interview how listening to music based in his brain's electric waves, has helped his creativity and relaxation thanks to a new medical procedure called Brain Therapy, Thursday afternoon in his studio at home in Palm Springs.

(Luis Ochoa, The Desert Sun)


Palm Springs resident Craig Bruce’s life was filled with anxiety and stress. He had trouble sleeping, wasn’t happy at work and knew he needed to do something before depression set in.

“I was very unhappy,” he said.

Bruce tuned into brain music therapy, a treatment which turned his brainwaves into classical music that helped him relax, sleep well and to be more energetic, creative and active.

“I started feeling less stress, and when you feel less stress you realize you have to make better choices to reduce stress,” he said.

A form of neurobiofeedback, brain music therapy records a person’s brainwaves using an electroencephalogram (EEG) and coverts them into classical piano music.

“It’s like a symphony orchestrated by brainwaves,” said Dr. Orli Peter, founder and director of the Center for Accelerated Psychology in Beverly Hills, who treated Bruce.
“We convert them (brainwaves) from electrical frequencies to audio frequencies,” she said.

Your inner music

As a person listens to his/her own personalized music, the mind is soothed, doctors said.

“The brainwaves are translated digitally using an algorithm. ... It can relax the brain or help increase concentration and creativity,” said Dr. Galina Mindlin, a New York City-based neurophysiologist.

Mindlin founded the Brain Music Therapy Center in New York City in 2005.

She introduced the practice in the United States after working with Dr. Lakov Levine, who developed the procedure at the Moscow Medical Academy in 1991.

To date, Mindlin has trained 15 American colleagues like Peter in the use of brain music therapy.

Bruce first heard of the procedure while watching Mindlin explain the therapy on a segment of the “Today Show” in November 2006.

“She described the process. It was medically tested and there’s science behind it. It didn’t seem like a new age ‘sound of the whales’ stuff. It’s measured, it’s had results,” Bruce said.

“It’s scientifically based. ... It’s demonstrated a high effectiveness in double-blind studies as well as clinical practice,” Mindlin said.

But before trying it on her patients, Peter tested the procedure for herself.
“I hadn’t slept well for 15 years,” she said.

“I slept for 13 hours the first week I used it. I was just thrilled at that point,” she said.
Since it’s a relatively new procedure, most doctors have not had much experience with brain music therapy, but they have very little doubt about the healing power of music.

“Music can really communicate in many non-verbal ways,” said Dr. Shara Sand, clinical assistant professor of psychology and assistant director of clinical training at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University in New York City.

It’s a beginning

Bruce also saw the therapy as part of a new way to help treat his anxiety and stress, but not as a cure-all.

“I was very excited (when starting the procedure) ... full of confidence,” he said.
“Part of it is you have to believe it’s going to work, have confidence in it.”

“But you can’t just plug yourself in and expect problems to go away, you have to make your own choices. ... But with less stress, you make better choices,” he said.
Since beginning his therapy a few months ago Bruce has made many new choices in his life.

He quit his job as a geriatric care manager and found a new one at a non-profit agency.

He has more energy to paint and a different outlook on his life.

“I’m getting back to doing some wonderful stuff,” he said.

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