Singing 'rewires' damaged brain
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Posted 21 February 2010 - 09:58 AM
Teaching stroke patients to sing "rewires" their brains, helping them recover their speech, say scientists. By singing, patients use a different area of the brain from the area involved in speech.
If a person's "speech centre" is damaged by a stroke, they can learn to use their "singing centre" instead. Researchers presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego.
An ongoing clinical trial, they said, has shown how the brain responds to this "melodic intonation therapy". Gottfried Schlaug, a neurology professor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, led the trial.
The therapy is already established as a medical technique. Researchers first used it when it was discovered that stroke patients with brain damage that left them unable to speak were still able to sing.
Professor Schlaug explained that his was the first study to combine this therapy with brain imaging - "to show what is actually going on in the brain" as patients learn to sing their words.
Most of the connections between brain areas that control movement and those that control hearing are on the left side of the brain. "But there's a sort of corresponding hole on the right side," said Professor Schlaug. "For some reason, it's not as endowed with these connections, so the left side is used much more in speech.
"If you damage the left side, the right side has trouble [fulfilling that role]."
Posted 11 April 2010 - 03:55 AM
I wouldn't argue with this theory. Although it's not the same as having a stroke, my son was born with autism, and did not talk until the age of 5. However, we spent a lot of time and therapy with him, and as he showed a strong interest in music, I use to sing a lot to him. Rather then beginning to talk, his first words were from a song, and it took about 2 -3 months before he moved from singing to speaking. He still sings a lot, and I believe the music he has excelled in for his whole life is what helped him go from being strongly autistic to very high-functioning autism.
Hmmmm, thinking, thinking... nope, no idea what else to say
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