Sunday, February 21, 2010

Singing "Rewires" Damaged Brain

Here's an article from the BBC on the use of singing to help stroke victims regain speech. Nothing particularly new, just the growing awareness of the benefits of music therapy.

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. 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]." But as patients learn to put their words to melodies, the crucial connections form on the right side of their brains. 

Dr Aniruddh Patel from the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, said the study was an example of the "explosion in research into music and the brain" over the last decade.

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