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Regular version of the site

Uniting Science and Film

Режиссер фильма Майкл Россато-Беннетт и доцент факультета психологии Наталия Варако

The film Alive Inside by American director Michael Rossato-Bennett discusses the surprising results of treating Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders with the help of music. The director first got the idea to make the film after he met Dan Cohen, a volunteer at a nursing home. Cohen once noticed that patients’ behavior changes when they hear their favorite music on an MP3 player. They not only begin to react to what is happening, but their motor skills, speech, and even memory return. Music therapy can be used to treat memory disorders and rehabilitate patients after strokes and traumatic brain injuries. And if a person does not like music, watching football games might help as well; it is most important that the individual have some sort of emotional response.

 Rossato-Bennett was happy to take part in the scientific film festival and noted: ‘Science is very profound. If you take science and mix it with your heart you can solve the problems of the world. I adore this festival, it’s a great experience’.

After the film was shown, a discussion began that saw the participation of Natalia Varako, an Associate Professor in the Department of General and Experimental Psychology of HSE’s Faculty of Psychology. Professor Varako described how Russian specialists also know about the healing power of music and actively use it not only to treat patients with memory disorders, but also to rehabilitate those who have suffered from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and even illnesses not related to the brain.

‘I really liked the film. I believe it is very important in resolving problems with aging and rehabilitating the sick. I think it should be seen by people who deal with regulatory frameworks and financial security. This problem is the same for both the U.S. and Russia – it’s much simpler to buy a tonne of medicine than it is a few MP3 players with headphones,’ Natalia Varako comments. Professor Varako also said she was actively using music therapy at N.V. Sklifosovsky Institute of Emergency Medicine (SRIEM), where she works as a medical psychologist in the neurology division. ‘One must understand, of course, that music is not a panacea. The effects will not always be seen, but this is still an undoubtedly critical component to rehabilitation,’ she concludes.

The 360° Contemporary Science Film Festival includes work by people who portray current scientific research and achievements in a way that is accessible to even those far removed from science. The main organizer of the festival is the Polytechnic Museum. Screenings will take place in Moscow in mid-October, as well as in a number of other cities at various times of the year. This year, five films were shown at the HSE as part of the festival.

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