Providing musical therapy for developing babies

MU Health Care researches examine the effects of music therapy on a baby's neurodevelopment

Jan. 28, 2022


Brian Consiglio: Music can be fun to listen to for people of all ages, but can it also have therapeutic benefits for the developing brains of babies? Inside of neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, babies born prematurely are monitored day and night to support their physical and neurodevelopment until they are ready for the outside world. At MU Health Care’s NICU, trained music therapist Emily Pivovarnik has seen firsthand how playing music for babies can help them eat better, regulate their stress levels and adjust to stimulation.

Pivovarnik: “There’s a lot of really good information about that in our research literature already, but we want to look longitudinally at this data and see if there are long term effects of this intervention on kids’ neurodevelopment.”

Consiglio: Pivovarnik is starting a new research project to look at the effects of a specific music therapy intervention called multimodal neurological enhancement. This therapy combines music, gentle touch and rocking the baby, designed to help a baby’s brain development. MU Health Care neonatologist Olugbemisola Obi says targeted therapies may be beneficial while a baby’s brain is still developing.

Obi: “We get them before their brain is fully developed, and so it makes sense that whatever therapy we can target while that brain is developing will help them.”

Consiglio: For more on this research, visit

I’m Brian Consiglio, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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