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NCCIH Research Blog

NIH Music-Based Intervention Toolkit for Brain Disorders of Aging—A New Web Resource for Researchers

May 3, 2023

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.


Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke, Ph.D.
Program Director
Sensory and Motor Disorders of Aging Program
Division of Neuroscience
National Institute on Aging
View biographical sketch

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and National Institute on Aging (NIA) are delighted to announce a new web-based resource, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Music-Based Intervention Toolkit. The online Toolkit was adapted from a paper published in the journal Neurology on May 1, 2023, and will help researchers and health professionals interested in exploring music interventions for brain disorders of aging. 

Increasing evidence suggests that music-based interventions (MBIs) may be helpful for health conditions that occur during childhood, adulthood, or aging. However, because much of the research on MBIs is preliminary, few definite conclusions about their effects have been reached. 

NIH is committed to developing standards and tools that can be applied to MBI studies and strengthen the field. To achieve this goal, NIH gathered input from interdisciplinary expert panels comprising neuroscientists, music therapy and music medicine professionals, behavioral intervention researchers, clinical trial methodologists, and patient advocacy and arts-based organization representatives to create the Toolkit for research on music and health across the lifespan. The MBI Toolkit will provide investigators with broad guidelines and recommendations on a consolidated set of common data elements for MBI protocols and a core dataset of functional outcome measures and biomarkers that they can use in their specific studies, with a focus on brain disorders of aging as a model system.

The past decade has yielded a rapid increase in the amount of research into the effects of the arts on health and well-being. Nonpharmacologic approaches, such as music, continue to be explored for treating symptoms of brain disorders of aging, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias. While studies have shown promise, there is still a lot of work to be done to build the evidence base before we can definitively make conclusions about music’s effects on the brain and body. We are very hopeful that the MBI Toolkit will help toward this goal and highly encourage researchers to use this new resource as they develop their grant applications. 

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