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Center for Music & Medicine


The Center for Music & Medicine’s research explores the impact of music and rhythm-based therapies on Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and a number of other disorders.In addition, the center aims to study the neurological and musculoskeletal impact of repetitive practice and performance, and isolate practice and performance patterns that predispose musicians and dancers to occupational injuries.

Listening to music activates as many, if not more, parts of the brain than any human activity – which makes it complex to study.

Alexander Pantelyat, M.D., co-director of the Center for Music and Medicine

Clinical Research Goals

Developing effective music and rhythm-based therapies requires a deep understanding of how music and rhythm affect the brain. There is also a pressing need to understand the biomechanical determinants and mechanisms of occupational disorders in musicians.

Research initiatives include the following:

Neuroimaging Studies

  • State-of-the-art functional and structural brain MRI techniques to help us understand the mechanisms supporting the use of music and rhythm as therapeutic tools
  • Neuroimaging to facilitate insight into the perception and creation of music
  • Neuroimaging and computational methods to advance the application of motor learning concepts and using these to design efficient training regimens for musicians and others with high-precision sensorimotor demands

Researching Music and Rhythm-based Interventions

  • Providing ongoing music- and dance-based therapy to patients with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke and other disorders
  • Studying rhythmic entrainment (rhythmic patterns) and rhythmic auditory stimulation therapy, which uses focused sounds to stimulate the brain, for walking and balance in parkinsonian disorders
  • Investigating the benefits of choral singing on Parkinson's disease patients’ quality of life and voice outcomes in a well-controlled trial (ParkinSonics trial)
  • Studying the behavioral effects when institutionalized Alzheimer’s patients listen to familiar and personally meaningful music (a concept described in the 2014 award-winning documentary Alive Inside, which suggests that music can bring joy back into the lives of people with dementia and other conditions that result in institutionalization) versus unfamiliar music
  • Assessing rhythm-based therapies such as group drumming to enhance walking and balance in Parkinsonian disorders as well as Huntington disease
  • Investigating the benefits of guitar group lessons on Parkinson's disease patients’ quality of life, function and hand dexterity 

Researching Interventions for Musicians’ Playing and Singing-Related Disorders

  • Objective analysis of musician performance to determine the cause of the occupational problem and develop long-term rehabilitation solutions
  • Development of measurement tools and systematic methods to investigate playing-related biomechanical problems in musicians.
  • Analysis of the biomechanics of instrument play and motor expertise using the Peabody Smart Instrument Series to assess biomechanical loads on musicians
  • Investigating various re-training methods and their outcomes for improving function for musicians (for example, guitarists) with dystonia

Training the Next Generation of Music-Based Intervention Researchers and Practitioners

Serape Bastepe-Gray studies music as medicineDr. Serap Bastepe-Gray

An interdisciplinary fellowship and junior faculty development program through the Center for Music & Medicine will train the next generation of researchers and further the center’s mission.

The group plans to initiate an internal, competitive, peer-reviewed research grants program to stimulate novel research and accelerate the pace of discovery and treatment.

Forming regional, national and international partnerships for collaborative research trials will advance progress in music-based therapies, and therapies for musicians’ illnesses and injuries.

Clinical Trials

Impact of Non-traditional Guitar Group Instruction on Functional Movement and Well-being in Parkinson's Disease Patients (PD/Guitar). Learn more about this clinical trial. 

Research Studies

Research Study Recruiting Participants: Retraining Strategies in the Management of Guitarists’ Dystonia
Johns Hopkins University is conducting a study on guitarists’ dystonia retraining strategies and effectiveness. Researchers from the Peabody Institute and Department of Neurology are looking for guitarists with dystonia that affects their right hands as well as healthy guitarists who play classical and fingerstyle guitar. If you are interested in participating in this study or for more information, you can directly reach Dr. Serap Bastepe-Gray at 443-939-5578 or at



Research Labs

  • Laboratory of Auditory Neurophysiology

    Research in the Laboratory of Auditory Neurophysiology aims to understand brain mechanism responsible for auditory perception and vocal communication in a naturalistic environment. We are interested in revealing neural mechanisms operating in the cerebral cortex and how cortical representations of biologically important sounds emerge through development and learning.

    We use a combination of state-of-the-art neurophysiological techniques and sophisticated computational and engineering tools to tackle our research questions.

    Current research in our laboratory includes the following areas (1) neural basis of auditory perception, (2) neural mechanisms for vocal communication and social interaction, and (3) cortical processing of cochlear implant stimulation.

    Research Areas: neurophysiology, neuroengineering, audiology, cochlear implant, learning, language

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Xiaoqin Wang, Ph.D.


    Biomedical Engineering

Interested in Collaborating With the Center for Music & Medicine?

 Contact our team to learn more about exciting new research opportunities.