Dr William Forde Thompson

Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Macquarie University
Dr William Forde Thompson is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Macquarie University, where he runs the Music, Sound and Performance Lab. He is Chief Investigator of the Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, and founding Director of the Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise and Training. His publications include Music, Thought and Feeling (2014) and the Encyclopedia of Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2014). He was elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2015 and is currently President of the Australian Music Psychology Society.

Dr Amee Baird

PhD and MPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology)
Dr Amee Baird completed a PhD and MPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology) at the University of Melbourne and has worked as a clinical neuropsychologist for 15 years in both clinical and research positions overseas and in Australia, including the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and Salpetriere Hospital in Paris. She is an Associate Investigator with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders at Macquarie University, and is currently funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council/Australian Research Council Dementia Research Development Fellowship for the project ‘Can music mend minds? Investigating the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of music in persons with dementia’.

Olivia Brancatisano

MSc in Music, Mind and Brain
Olivia Brancatisano completed her MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently undertaking her PhD at Macquarie University under the supervision of Professor William Thompson and Dr Amee Baird, investigating the therapeutic value of music for individuals with dementia. She is a member of the Music, Sound and Performance Lab and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.

Jo-anne Cook

Bachelor of Music, Music Teacher
Jo-anne Cook has been teaching music to children for over 20 years both in a classroom setting and private studio. She completed a Bachelor of Music Degree at Newcastle University in 2000 then went on to complete a Diploma in Education (Secondary) in 2002. Since 2004, Jo has been working in primary schools as a music specialist, teaching students the concepts of music through performance, conducting concert bands and choirs. In 2017 Jo branched into the nursing home setting with the aim of using music to mentally challenge the brain of the elderly, keeping them active and being social through bucket drumming and learning the ukulele.


Thank you to all the residents and staff at Baptist Care Warabrook, for their participation in and facilitation of the pilot studies. In particular, we appreciate the support of Emma Chesterfield for supporting the study.

Thank you to the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network for the funding to establish this program (Collaborative Health Innovation Project Funding), and also to Scott White for facilitating this funding opportunity.

References and Further Reading

Altenmuller, E., & Schlaug, G. (2015). Apollo's gift: new aspects of neurologic music therapy. Prog Brain Res, 217, 237-252. doi:10.1016/bs.pbr.2014.11.029

Baird, A.D., Abell, R., Thompson, W.F., Bullot, N.J., Haertsch, M., & Chalmers, K.A. (2018). Group singing enhances positive affect in people with Parkinson’s Disease, Music & Medicine, 10, 13–17.

Baird, A., & Samson, S. (2015). Music and dementia. Prog Brain Res, 217, 207-235. doi:10.1016/bs.pbr.2014.11.028

Baird, A. & Thompson, W.F. (2017). The power of ‘our song’, the musical glue that binds friends and lovers across the ages. The Conversation. Published March 17th.

Baird, A., & Thompson, W.F. (2018). The impact of music on the self in dementia. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 61, 827–841

Baird, A., & Thompson, W.F. (in press). When music compensates language: A case study of severe aphasia in dementia and the use of music by a spousal caregiver. Aphasiology. Accepted March 2nd, 2018.

Baird, A., Umbach, H., & Thompson. W.F. (2017). A non-musician with severe Alzheimer’s Dementia learns a new song. Neurocase.

Thompson, W. F., & Schlaug, G. (2015). The Healing Power of Music. Scientific American Mind, 26(2), 32-41. doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0315-32

Wan, C. Y., Ruber, T., Hohmann, A., & Schlaug, G. (2010). The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders. Music Percept, 27(4), 287-295.