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How does neurological music therapy affect movement, cognition, and mood?

Project by Polygence alum Rishika

How does neurological music therapy affect movement, cognition, and mood?

Project's result

A review paper titled "The Effects of Music Therapy on Neurological Disorders" submitted to The Columbia Junior Science Journal and a presentation at The Symposium of Rising Scholars.

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While music therapy is a generally new form of therapy, neurologists believe that music can enhance or form neural networks in the motor cortex, auditory cortex, and sensory cortex. Elements found in music such as rhythm, tone, dynamics, and pitch have been found to activate specific brain regions that are needed to perform certain functions that patients with neurological degenerative conditions lack. Both neurologists and music therapists have used evidence-based practice to come to the conclusion that to study the effects of music on the brain, randomized control trials should be performed. They have recently discovered that neural networks in specific brain regions tend to respond automatically to certain elements of music, rather than following verbal instructions. This is due to the innate musical sensibility that humans carry, versus other learned cognitive tasks. This review paper explores the effects of neurologic music therapy on key functions of the brain such as movement, cognition, and mood. It dissects several parts of the brain and how music can positively enhance their several physiological functions. Additionally, the impact of music on each fundamental function is supported by case studies performed on patients with various degenerative disorders ranging from Alzheimer’s to Autism. By understanding the neuroscience behind the positive effects of music therapy, neurologists and music therapists alike will be able to help patients combat deadly degenerative disorders that have threatened society for years.



Polygence mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate


Neuroscience, Psychology


Emotions, Interoception and Body Awareness, Social and Affective Neuroscience, Social Psychology, Social Determinants of Health




Hi! My name is Rishika Kulkarni and I'm a junior at Francis Parker School! My project is about the effects of music therapy on neurodegenerative disorders.


Francis Parker School

Graduation Year


Project review

“I valued the mentor support I received at Polygence.”

About my mentor

“She edited my paper, gave me suggestions, and guided me through submitting it to a journal.”