Fronto-temporal areas process shared elements of speech and music. Improvisational psychodynamic music therapy (MT) utilizes verbal and musical reflection on emotions and images arising from clinical improvisation. Music listening is shifting frontal alpha asymmetries (FAA) in depression, and increases frontal midline theta (FMT). In a two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 79 depressed clients (with comorbid anxiety), we compared standard care (SC) versus MT added to SC at intake and after 3 months. We found that MT significantly reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. The purpose of this study is to test whether or not MT has an impact on anterior fronto-temporal resting state alpha and theta oscillations. Correlations between anterior EEG, Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-Anxiety Subscale (HADS-A), power spectral analysis (topography, means, asymmetry) and normative EEG database comparisons were explored. After 3 month of MT, lasting changes in resting EEG were observed, i.e., significant absolute power increases at left fronto-temporal alpha, but most distinct for theta (also at left fronto-central and right temporoparietal leads). MT differed to SC at F7-F8 (z scored FAA, p < .03) and T3-T4 (theta, p < .005) asymmetry scores, pointing towards decreased relative left-sided brain activity after MT; pre/post increased FMT and decreased HADS-A scores (r = .42, p < .05) indicate reduced anxiety after MT. Verbal reflection and improvising on emotions in MT may induce neural reorganization in fronto-temporal areas. Alpha and theta changes in fronto-temporal and temporoparietal areas indicate MT action and treatment effects on cortical activity in depression, suggesting an impact of MT on anxiety reduction.
Brain Topogr. 2012 Sep 16. Fachner J, Gold C, Erkkilä J. Department of Music, Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, 40014, Jyväskylä, Finland, firstname.lastname@example.org.