MUHS3051INTR3051: Music and Memory

Instructor: Stefan Fiol & Rhonna Shatz

Offered: Spring 2022 - TuTh 6:00pm-7:20pm

Location: Tuesday - Gardner Neuroscience Institute - Med Campus
                Thursday - online

Class #: 47127, 47004


How are music and memory co-implicated in cognition and in social experience? This course brings aspiring artists and medical professionals together with families impacted by neurodegenerative and memory disorders in order to learn from each other and adapt specific arts-based approaches to individual needs.

Throughout the semester, students will meet once a week in class, and once a week as part of a “quartet” consisting of two students, a person with a Neurodegenerative Disease (NDD), and a care partner. No one is expected to have experience in music, health care, or neurology. Everyone will be stretched on this journey, and students will be fully supported by a supervisory team consisting of a behavioral neurologist, an ethnomusicologist, a neurological social worker, and two community-based music therapists.

In weekly class sessions, we will explore recent research that shows how arts-based musical engagement enhances cognitive functioning and social and emotional skills, including interaction and communication and we will provide an understanding of the neurological basis of cognition, brain health, and neurodegenerative conditions. For people suffering from NDDs, which includes Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body/Parkinson’s disease, Frontotemporal neurodegenerations, and Primary Progressive Aphasia, musical engagement serves as more effective and life-affirming alternative to pharmacological interventions often used for treating behavior and mood complications of NDD. Students in the course will submit weekly reflections about their collaborations, thereby charting their development and learning process. This is a vital opportunity for students in the arts and in medical sciences to collaborate with each other and to serve and learn alongside an underserved population in our urban community.