What's on our MINdDS? - our research project

Professor Yvonne Nolan, Dr Eva McMullan and Dr Annalisa Setti and members of Down Syndrome Cork at the Launch of MINdDS in University College Cork in 2019.

The MINdDS research project (Music as an Intervention in the Neurological development of children with Downs Syndrome) is an innovative and exciting interdisciplinary research project based in University College Cork, funded by the College of Medicine and Health (CoMH), and launched on International Down Syndrome Day March 21st 2019 by UCC President Patrick O’ Shea.

The project, brings together academic researchers from the diverse fields of music, neuroscience and psychology in a study to assess the cognitive and neuro-biological effects of a specially designed music programme on children with Down Syndrome. At the core of the MINdDS project is ‘celebrating ability’, the team believes this is a powerful tool which enhances learning and supports further development of ability.

Leading the MINdDS project is Dr Eva McMullan, Department of Music UCC, with research supervisor Professor Yvonne Nolan, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC and project researchers Dr Jason Chan and Dr Annalisa Setti from the School of Applied Psychology, UCC.

Dr Eva McMullan, UCC President Patrick O’Shea, Professor Yvonne Nolan, Dr Annalisa Setti and members of Down Syndrome Cork having fun at the Launch of MINdDS in University College Cork in 2019. 

The MINdDS research project evolved from the very successful training programme ‘Music4Children’ which was set up in 2011 by Dr McMullan and primary school teacher Mr Padraig Wallace. The programme, which has received both national and international attention celebrates learning music through fun and creativity, and takes its inspiration from contrasting cultures, musical genres and most importantly, the children themselves. The course encourages confidence building, independent thinking and playful interaction making learning music a positive experience.

I don’t think any of us at Down Syndrome Cork, every imagined when we started with Eva and the puppets at Music4Children, the amazing impact it would have on our kids. The amount of benefits these sessions have on auditory processing, language skills, speech, shared experience with parents, attention building, turn taking, literacy skills and most of all fun is astounding’ (Alison Wilson – Down Syndrome Cork).

Dr Eva McMullan, Department of Music UCC, and Director of Music4Children, Padraig Wallace, Primary School Teacher and Director of Music4Children and Esther-Anna-Bennett, Music Therapist

Taught by Dr Eva McMullan, Padraig Wallace and Esther-Anna-Bennett, the positive effects of music on children with DS has been noted locally by both parents and teachers who have reported increased attention and self-monitoring.

Mia really loves going to her music class and is so proud to be a part it. She really enjoys the structure and warm up song and especially the puppets! it has given her so many opportunities to build her confidence such as speaking in front of the group and singing & signing in front of an audience. She is learning lots of skills like turn taking, patience and social skills through interacting with her peers.  And of course, she is learning about and appreciating music in a fun, interactive and recognizable way even for me! That is thanks to Eva and Esther’s patience, kindness, interactive and entertaining class. (Sharon Forde, Mia’s Mum)

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