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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Music in Medicine at MA General Hospital: Dr. Conrad

Chronicles of Boston Breakout: Day 3
After the music therapy session, we went to the Massachusetts General Hospital to visit Dr. Conrad, a surgeon and the Director of the Music in Medicine Research group . Here is a bit of background information about Dr. Conrad:
Claudius Conrad, Director of Music in Medicine of the Department of Surgery and the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, is well-known for his work understanding the role of music in modern medicine. He holds an MD, a doctoral degree in stem cell biology, and a doctoral degree in music philosophy from the University of Munich. He has been awarded several honors for his work, including the Excellence in Research Award, the Leadership Award of the American College of Surgeons, Steinway Artist, and many others. As a trained concert pianist and lecturer, he promotes the scientific use of music in medicine at prominent institutions around the globe.
Dr. Conrad gave us an informative lecture on his research on how listening to music (Mozart) helps performance (performing surgical procedures and motor control tasks). The results of his studies show that listening to Mozart decreases stress (by measuring stress indicators in the blood), and improves motor performance. In one study, subjects were asked to perform motor tasks, similar to surgical procedure tasks, in either a silent, dichotic music, mental loading, or Mozart condition. The results showed that subject's speed and accuracy in the tasks increased in the Mozart condition. Also, the blood samples taken from the participants showed that those in the Mozart condition had lower indicators of stress and that nurses (blind to the study) rated those subjects as more relaxed. See the paper, "The effect of defined auditory conditions versus mental loading on the laparoscopic motor skill performance of experts" published in Surgical Endoscopy, 2010.

What really astounds me is how Dr. Conrad is able to do such research, be a surgeon, and a touring concert pianist at the same time. He told us he attended medical school and a music conservatory at the same time!

For more on the music in medicine research Dr. Conrad does, check out this video: "Music in Medicine--Dr. Conrad"

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