New Music Therapy Study Recommends Treating Teenage Depression With Neutral Milk Hotel

“In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” along with other works in Neutral Milk Hotel’s catalogue, have been proven as effective treatment for teenage depression.


CONGNITIVE SCIENCE DEPARTMENT — A new study conducted by the UD Cognitive Science department has concluded the lo-fi indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel is a proven treatment for teenage depression. The band was tested alongside other musical treatments, such as Elliot Smith and Joy Division.

“The results were quite stunning,” said Cognitive Science professor Kimberly Gillespie. “Just four minutes of exposure to ‘The King of Carrot Flowers’ were able to really turn around our Newark High School test subjects. Before, they’re thinking no one understands them, and after, they’re singing along to the words ‘I love you, Jesus Christ!’ in a basement lab.”

In more specialized trials, the treatment had even heightened levels of effectiveness. “The first bars of ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ saw heightened levels of serotonin, but when the singing saw came in at the beginning of the second verse, the levels went off the charts,” said Gillespie.

The study also found different uses for different parts of the catalog. One test subject, Celia, saw a spike in monoamine from listening to “Oh Comely” after leaving a party where she realized she’d grown apart from all her childhood friends. Another, named Ross, saw more regulated hormone levels from hearing “Naomi” after he tried to kiss one his best friends and she told him that she didn’t like him like that.

The study first took the form of rodent testing. “The first step was taking a test rat, and then getting its parents to have a divorce,” said Gillespie. “It’s very important for the test rat to think that it was their fault their parents’ marriage fell apart. After that, we introduced In the Aeroplane Over the Sea to their enclosure and watched the results.”

The rats reacted almost instantaneously, squeaking along to “Ghost” on most first listens. Later trials tested the earlier material, showing similar results. “They really liked On Avery Island, too,” added Gillespie. “‘Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone’ caused great increases in dopamine. The Ferris Wheel on Fire EP was effective as well. Real deep cut, that one.”

Gillespie also found heavy responses to Daniel Johnston, although she recommends this be prescribed in more severe situations. Gillespie and her team are currently planning their next project, tracking responses of anxiety in recent college graduates to Simon and Garfunkel.

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