In Episode 15 of WiGH? Cynthia Li speaks with Dr. Concetta Tomaino, music therapy pioneer and director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. Dr. Tomaino discusses the role of music in brain development as well as the future of music therapy. This podcast also features a musical performance from Dr. Tomaino’s therapy patients. “I started singing the song and playing music, and the people who were extremely agitated calmed down and the people who seemed to be catatonic and not aware of anything opened their eyes and half of them started singing the words to the song. […] People with such severe brain damage could still respond to music when nothing else in the world made sense to them.” – Dr. Concetta Tomaino

Concetta Tomaino, D.A. is a music therapist at the CenterLight Health System and is a faculty member at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function and was the past president of the American Association for Music Therapy. Dr. Tomaino specializes in research and the treatment of patients with non-fluent aphasia as well as other types of brain damage. She has worked with acclaimed neurologist Oliver Sacks (author of “Awakenings,” a best-selling book that was later made into a Oscar-nominated film) in order to explore the link between music and the brain; Dr. Sacks’ book Musicophilia was dedicated to her. Cynthia Li Margaret Chou, Sneha Subramaniam, and Connie Chen contributed to this episode.

Photo credit: http://www.einstein.yu.edu/faculty/10374/concetta-tomaino/