A Florida State University professor is the first-ever winner of a new award given by the World Federation of Music Therapy to recognize prominent researchers in the field.
Jayne Standley, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, received the global award in music therapy research at the Federation's 2014 meeting in Vienna for her body of music therapy research spanning more than 20 years.
"That made it really special — to be the first researcher recognized," she said.
Specifically, Standley was recognized for her contributions to helping infants with the power of music. Standley invented what is called the PAL device, or a pacifier activated lullaby. A baby's suck on a pacifier activates lullaby music which increases sucking rate. This leads to improved feeding skills and earlier discharge.
The World Federation of Music Therapy is the field's only worldwide organization exclusively for the field and meets every three years.
Standley is professor of music, but also holds an appointment in the College of Medicine. She directs the music therapy program at FSU, the National Institute for Infant and Child Medical Music Therapy and the Medical Music Therapy and Arts in Medicine Programs in partnership with Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.
She started her career on a music scholarship at Florida State where she played the French horn. But, she wound up attending a student meeting about music therapy as an undergraduate student.
"I was hooked from the first night," she said.
Now, Standley is also working to see if the device can be used to take infants off of respirators faster. Essentially, she is hoping music can make the very immature brain "turn on" faster to provide continuous, autonomic breathing.
She also has had some success at getting toddlers with oral aversion off of gastrointestinal feeding tubes by using music to reinforce oral feeding.
"I'm always surprised at how powerful music is in affecting human behavior," Standley said.
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