Potential Topics for Final Paper(s): Music and Sound Therapy, Carbon and Biotechnology, Antibodies and Animals, or Microbiology and Art

I would like to choose the applications of music and sound to medicine and healthcare as the topic that I write about in my final paper. To approach this topic, I plan on using research studies and experimental results to root my discussions on the potential benefits and application for music and sound in various aspects of healthcare. 

I plan on broadly dividing my paper into three sections where I’ll discuss and summarize research studies on how sound and music can be used to help improve health outcomes of pediatric patients, adult patients, and geriatric patients. I also hope to find research studies so that I can address potential applications for music and sound therapy across several different medical specialties. 

For instance, researchers discovered that listening to and playing music increases production of immunoglobulin A antibodies and natural killer cells which are involved in cytotoxic responses that help kill intracellular pathogens like viruses and in some cases oncogenic cells. In other words, research studies such as this one can be used to examine the benefits of music and sound therapy in immunology. 

Those same researchers found that music also reduces cortisol levels which means music and sound therapy may be beneficial in the reduction of stress and boosting effective stress responses.  While looking at the effect of music on hormones like cortisol is rooted in endocrinology, there is a tremendous amount of research on music and sound therapy in relation to neurology and psychiatry so this topic will probably make up a large portion of the paper. 

There is a lot of research that has been conducted on how listening to music and learning to play instruments can help improve the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s in geriatric patients. I think this is a really important topic with a lot of supportive scientific evidence which I will discuss. There has been research conducted at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on the short-term uses of vibroacoustic therapy to improve the systems of patients with Parkinson’s disease which reduced symptoms such as tremors. When I discuss the intersection of music and sound with neurology, I also plan on writing about how the brain processes music and sound, as well as how this scientific process influences the potential effects of music and sound therapy on human health. 

Then I will delve into multiple studies which discuss how music and sound has been employed experimentally to treat pain and reduce stress in various demographics of patients. For instance, in a 2013 research study published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, it was found that listening to music was more effective than prescription drugs to reduce pre-sugery anxiety. With regards to pediatrics, there is growing evidence that listening to music during painful medical procedures can actually reduce the level of pain felt by the children. 

Finally, I will also try to find and summarize research studies that discuss applications for music and sound therapy in palliative care, cardiac healthcare, and the effects of listening to or playing music on mental health outcomes. I think it may also be interesting to discuss the effects of listening to different types of music during surgery on the actual physicians in the operating room. This will allow me to discuss how music can play a role in healthcare by influencing the healthcare providers rather than always focusing on the direct effects on the patients. Finally, I would also like to compare and contrast the effects of listening to different types of music and different types of songs, as well as the different ramifications for simply listening to or playing music. 

I believe it was mentioned during class that the final paper could comprise two papers that would each be approximately half the length of the originally planned single final paper. If this is true, then I might also consider writing a second essay. I’m not completely settled on the topic of this potential second paper but as of now I’m considering writing a paper summarizing the different applications for carbon in scientific research and biotechnology since I started the first week of this course reflecting on the prevalence of carbon after discussing graphene and pencils. Another topic I’m considering is writing a paper on past, current, and future applications for antibodies in scientific research and biotechnology while also addressing the ethical implications of this research on animals that we have historically used to harvest antibodies from. This topic idea was inspired by our past two weeks discussing animals in relation to the Chinese Zodiac and scientific research. The final topic idea I’m considering for a potential second paper is the uses for microbiology in biotechnology and industry as well as how microbes have been used in art. I was actually completely unaware of this before doing research but there is such as a thing as the ASM Agar Art Contest and microbial art is actually a very interesting medium of art which I would like to learn more about.