This past summer, Roxanne Chess (SAR ’08) conducted research that could lead to new applications of music therapy. Working closely with Amir Lahav (SAR’06), a doctoral student in Sargent College’s department of rehabilitation sciences, Chess, an occupational therapy major, conducted a study demonstrating how a person’s motor performance can improve by listening to music he or she has previously learned to play.
Chess, Lahav, and their faculty advisor Elliot Saltzman, a SAR associate professor of physical therapy, trained a group of study participants to play a simple piece of music on piano; they subsequently had only some participants listen to a recording of the piece. At a later date, the researchers asked the study participants to play the piece again; they found that those who had listened to the music they had previously learned to play better recalled the necessary finger movements.
“[The research] was very intensive and it was a lot of fun to have such a large part in the study that I was responsible for,” says Chess, who conducted the research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and recently won second place in a poster contest at UROP’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. “It was really exciting to see how [the research] worked out so well.”