Music as Precision Medicine: Could Music Take the Place of Drugs?

Research has shown that music alleviates pain; in one particular study done with post-operative patients, half the group listened to an hour of music after the surgery, while the other half got standard care without music.

Results were fascinating: the group that listened to the music self-administered only ⅓ of morphine compared to the other group. The results have been replicated in numerous studies, encouraging researchers and musicians to keep on exploring the relationship between sound and well-being.

I learned this during my conversation with Marko Ahtisaari, the CEO and co-founder of The Sync Project — a collaborative venture of scientists, musicians, technologists and patients, working towards developing functional music. This includes sounds that respond to each individual body with a goal of enabling certain state of being, and serve as precision medicine.

Marko believes that non-drug modalities, such as music, video games or lighting will completely or partially come in place of drug therapy within ten years time.

The power of data and AI will play a role in this, enabling our devices to learn about our needs and individual physiology, and administer proper “treatment” to reach certain outcomes. The group launched Unwind.ai this March — an experiment in assisting relaxation with generative music made by combining data about your heart rate, machine learning and human musicianship.

The Exponential View