Feds Aim to Calm Nerves With 'Brain Music' Therapy

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2009 8:16 PM CDT
Feds Aim to Calm Nerves With 'Brain Music' Therapy
A Department of Homeland Security study aims to soothe workers' frayed nerves by playing their brain activities back to them in the form of music.   (Shutterstock)

A new federal study may be music to the ears of stressed firefighters and bomb squads, the New Scientist reports. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to record their brain activity when alert or calm, translate it into music, and play it back to soothe their frayed nerves. But psychologists are dubious of the plan. "I don't think they have a clue about what they're trying to do," says British expert Lawrence Parsons.

Scientists have recorded biofeedback from the body before and played it back to people to achieve various effects—like pain control—but never in the form of music. Calling the DHS plan "crazy," Parsons says the brainwave melody will affect workers only because it is music, regardless of where it originated. A DHS rep disagrees, saying the study is "more personalized than traditional music therapy" and syncs with "what activates the individual's brain." (Read more music therapy stories.)

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