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Medical Moment: Treating brain fog through music therapy app

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 7:59 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Brain fog is a term that people use to describe problems with thinking, remembering, or focusing.

It’s often a side effect of an illness like COVID, or medical treatment like chemotherapy for cancer.

Scientists are exploring the treatment of brain fog with do-it-yourself music therapy thanks to an app that could help clear the mind.

Music as medicine. It’s been used to calm anxious patients, but what about using music to improve brain function or cognition? Therapy that patients could do on their own.

“I wanted an app that could allow patients to express their music (and) musical ability,” says Soma Sengupta, neuro-oncologist at the University of Cincinnati.

Scientists at the University of Cincinnati developed ARMCAN (Active Receptive Music for Cancer Patients). Researchers have designed the app for patients to use two ways. First, they can stream music to enjoy the music they love. The app also allows patients to actively participate by making their own music.

“So, in other words, to have musical turns where you could overlay genres and create your own music track,” Sengupta says.

Patients will be assigned to a group that either listens to the music or creates the music. They’ll do that activity for 15 minutes every day.

“So, these technologies are sort of in a way helping the rewiring and exercising areas of the brain that normally wouldn’t do it,” Sengupta says.

Trials are happening with breast cancer survivors dealing with brain fog. The team will test patients using surveys and MRIs to see how the brain is changing during the music therapy.

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