Music Therapy and Neuroscience: Opportunities and Challenges


music therapy

How to Cite

O’Kelly, J. (2016). Music Therapy and Neuroscience: Opportunities and Challenges. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 16(2).


Human responses to music may be viewed through a neuroscience lens with increasingly sophisticated neuroimaging technology, providing neurological and biomedical measures of psychological states. These developments have been harnessed in collaborative research investigations seeking to develop the therapeutic applications of music. As a consequence of these collaborations, neuroscientific understanding is emerging of how music therapy may support improvements in cognition, movement and emotional regulation, as well as helping us to explore the neurological aspects of therapeutic relationships. This paper provides an overview of this field of investigation, focussing on the significant areas of progress in work with those living with stroke, neurodegenerative conditions, affective disorders, disorders of consciousness, autism, cancer and palliative conditions. Advances, challenges and opportunities associated with using neuroscience methods to develop the evidence base for music therapy will be explored from the perspective of a music therapy clinician and researcher.

Articles published prior to 2019 are subject to the following license, see:

Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 4.0 that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.

Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.


Bergen Open Access Publishing