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Musical Minds

August 9, 2011



To see the full story about Dr. Dykens research go to www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/vanderbiltmedicine

Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair and director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is interested in understanding the neuroscience and cognition of music in hopes of filling the gaps of what music as medicine means.

Dykens’ research has primarily focused on individuals with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder than can lead to development problems. People with Williams syndrome often show an unusual attraction to music. In her studies, she found that music reduces anxiety levels and has a calming effect.

For the past six years, she recruited a bevy of research participants through the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp, a weeklong residential camp for people with Williams syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Campers participate in songwriting workshops, recording sessions and a live performance at the Grand Ole Opry. During their stay, campers are also involved in a host of clinical and neuroimaging research to help investigators understand the unusual auditory processing and love for music that is characteristic of Williams syndrome.

This past year, the work of the students was highlighted at the ACM Awards program. Vanderbilt University's Barb Cramer has more.

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