Oriol Casals: «Music activates the whole brain»
On Wednesday, 21 January 2015, the Faculty of Education held its third Alumni Reunion, which was led by music therapist Oriol Casals. The president of the Catalan Association of Music Therapy spoke to the 50-strong audience, made up of former students and teaching staff, about the surprising effects of music on people who are ill.
Oriol Casals, a professor of music who also holds a master’s degree in music therapy, has extensive experience as a therapist specializing in senile dementia, intellectual disability and social exclusion. During his speech, he talked about the therapeutic effects of music. He said, “The science of music therapy has been incorporated into the US education system and has had some amazing results in terms of people’s behaviour”.
The event started with a practical workshop on movement, music and rhythm with those present, and Casals spoke about the importance of music in people’s education, especially when they are seeking a remedy. He said, “In my work I have demonstrated the effectiveness of music therapy in elderly people with mild to severe dementia and in people recovering from a stroke”.
The speaker explained that music therapy has successfully treated a range of disorders, such as those caused by a stroke, bereavement, Parkinson’s disease, special education needs, autism, learning disorders, behavioural problems, etc. He said, “Some experts have achieved good results in other fields such as drug addiction and eating disorders”.
In the end, the session turned into a dialogue with the audience, who had the opportunity to share their experiences. There was general agreement regarding the importance of finding alternatives to the excessive medicalization of some diseases. With this in mind, Casals said, “Music activates the whole brain and quickly and precisely stimulates the areas responsible for language, attention and memory”. He went on to say that recent advances in neuroscience and the development of neuroimaging techniques have helped scientists understand that music rapidly and precisely activates the areas of the brain responsible for language, the motor system, executive functions, attention and memory.
This is the third edition of the reunion organized by the Faculty of Education alumni. The aim of the reunions is to maintain contact with all alumni and, in the words of UIC Alumni Association Director Mariana Zanuy, to hang onto “the unique hallmark of our university: a passion for learning and refreshing knowledge”. She went on to say, “Our alumni are helping the UIC grow bigger every day”.