Cleveland Clinic researchers find music can have a soothing effect during brain surgery
By Brie Zeltner, The Plain Dealer
December 01, 2009, 12:01AM
Lynn Ischay, The Plain DealerDr. Damir Janigro, left, a neuroscientist at the Cleveland Clinic, found that melodic passages of music seemed to calm patients when played while they remainied conscious during deep brain stimulation. With Janigro, in this picture from 2007, is Italian cellist Umberto Clerici. They are holding the 1769 Guadagnini cello that belonged to Janigro’s father, the great Italian cellist Antonio Janigro, which Clerici has on loan.
If you’ve ever come home after a long day and turned on, say, Brahms to relax, or jacked up the volume on Queen’s “We Are the Champions” to get psyched for a workout, you know that music can change your mood.
Research on music and the brain has shown that it can reduce stress, alleviate pain and promote relaxation. And new research from the Cleveland Clinic shows that music can even reach into deep brain structures unrelated to hearing and memory to literally soothe nerves.
Patients receiving deep-brain-stimulation surgery for Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and several other conditions have to be awake for much of the surgery to tell surgeons if their symptoms improve when electrodes are placed deep in their brains.
“I witnessed several hundred brain surgeries with awake patients, and I noticed that these patients were going through a very traumatic experience, much worse than a root canal, for hours, and yet they were wide awake. So they need to be conscious, but no one said that they have to be upset or bored.”
Damir Janigro, Cleveland Clinic neuroscientist
Neuroscientist Damir Janigro took advantage of this conscious period to play clips of music for the patients to see what effect it had on their brain function and on their stress levels during the surgery, which can be many hours long.
Janigro decided to play music for these patients after his own experience in a noisy operating room this year. While being prepped for spinal surgery, he thought of how dentists often give patients headphones to listen to music or a TV to watch to ease anxiety.
“The reason why they do it — I asked my dentist — is because