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From Music to a Master’s

MHS graduate Linda Maguire combines her two passions to help Alzheimer’s patients


From Music to a Master'sLinda Maguire couldn’t help her occasional burst into song on May 20, the day of the Bloomberg School’s 2014 convocation.

It was a personal-best moment for Maguire, a longtime professional singer, who put her musical career on hold to pursue another passion—neuroscience.

After a year studying and researching the cognitive and physiological responses of Alzheimer’s patients to music, she graduated with a Master of Health Science degree in Mental Health.

And that’s not all.

On May 19, Maguire received a $1,500 scholarship from the School’s Delta Omega Alpha Chapter to help her develop a computerized, music-based model to regulate mood and behavior in Alzheimer’s patients. Her proposal won the practice category in the public health honor society’s annual scholarship competition.

“It’s all so reinforcing for this work that I have been doing for so many years,” said Maguire, who earned a master’s in psychology last year.

She became interested in music’s effects on the brain several years ago after visiting a friend with Alzheimer’s in a facility for dementia patients. When she played the piano, she noticed that the music calmed and engaged the patients. The observation planted the seeds for her research focus: prescriptive music.

Combining her expertise in neuroscience and music, Maguire is exploring how musical characteristics—rhythm, structure, tone, instrumentation, melody—drive behavior and cognition.

Her hope is to develop a digital archive of medical music prescriptions—initially targeted to Alzheimer’s patients—for use in clinical settings to improve mood and overall functioning.

“I’m in a unique position to pursue how human beings process music and how it has the power to change them,” Maguire said.