Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dr. Alice Cash and the Mozart Effect

The "Mozart Effect" craze began in 1993 when Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky published an article stating that after listening to a Mozart sonata, 36 college students showed an increase on spatial reasoning scores compared to students who listened to a relaxation tape or sat in silence. Somehow, these very specific results have been morphed by teachers, parents, and entrepreneurs into the general idea that listening to classical music can make people smarter. Despite missing a testable explanation as to why Mozart music had this effect or a successful replication of this experiment, the Mozart Effect still lives on today.
Beside convincing parents that they need to make their kids listen to classical
music, Mozart Effect has also led to a market for music that claims to aid the sick.
Dr. Alice Cash is a motivational speaker and the owner of Healing Music Enterprises, a company that sells CDs which claim to help preserve the memory of patients with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. These products may appeal to a family distraught over the diagnosis of a loved one, but Dr. Cash's website lacks any real medical proof.
First, Dr. Alice Cash repeatedly refers to herself as "doctor" and even appears in various pictures wearing a lab coat and stethoscope. This offers the allusion that she is a medical doctor when in reality she holds a PhD in musicology. Musicology is the scholarly study of music and a degree in this area would not make her an expert in Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia. However, her overuse of the title "Doctor" leads people to believe that she is an expert in these mentally degenerative diseases.
Second, her website displays many positive reviews of her products and seminars without specific scientific proof that her methods are effective. These reviews praise her as a "wonderful woman" who is knowledgeable in "music and brain functioning". However, when Dr. Cash explains the reasoning behind these success stories, she simply says that doctors have known for years that patients with various dementias respond powerfully to familiar music. Her vague explanation without referencing any reputable sources leads one to believe that there is no scientific basis behind any of her claims.
Despite the faults with Dr. Alice Cash's website, I can understand why someone might try her therapy. Alternative therapies are attractive to patients who can no longer be helped my traditional medicine. Also, it is natural for people want to try any treatment that could possibly help a loved one when a devastating diagnosis such as dementia is made. Dr. Cash caters to this desire in people by falsely giving the image that she is a medical doctor and by offering vague, unsubstantiated evidence for her claims.

No comments:

Post a Comment