Singing therapy helps stroke patients regain language BRAIN…Part 2
Singing therapy helps stroke patients regain language
February 22, 2010|By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
Schlaug’s group’s technique, Melodic Intonation Therapy, involves singing tones with the patient and having the patient repeat words and phrases to the sound of those tones. Melody and rhythm are incorporated in getting the patients, who would otherwise not be able to speak, to sing.
The observation that some patients with brain damage can sing but not speak has been around for at least a century, Schlaug said. However, it’s only recently that the phenomenon, and how it works in the brain, has been scientifically studied.
Anyone can be trained to do this therapy, including nonprofessional caregivers and family members, he said. It is not widespread, perhaps because of people’s natural inhibition about singing with patients, he said.
“We’re talking about people 50 to 90 years of age, and to change the brain at that age requires something that has to be done very intensely,” he said.
Each session is 1½ hours, and the program lasts 14 to 16 weeks. For most of these kinds of therapies, in order to assess the efficacy, treatment needs to take place after the natural recovery phase, which can be six to 12 months, he said.
One example is a patient called J.M., 57 years old, who had a large lesion on the left side of his brain. He had four years of speech therapy before the intervention but could mainly utter only senseless sounds. After 75 sessions of the singing technique, he could fluently say his address when asked. Another patient was taught to say, “I am thirsty.”
“If they can express their really basic needs, that is very important to someone who is otherwise nonverbal,” Schlaug said.
During these 75 sessions, patients are taught several hundred words and phrases, and they will usually not lose the ability to say these things after the therapy stops. At least two-thirds of the patients are able to transfer the skills to words and phrases on which they have not been trained, he said.
One or two of Schlaug’s patients have even given a small speech in public, he said.
Neuroimaging of healthy brains has shown that the areas and signals of the brain used to process instrumental music are activated when processing spoken language, said Aniruddh Patel, senior fellow at the Neuroscience Institute.
“Your knowledge of nouns of verbs is different from your knowledge of tones and chords and harmony,” he said. Yet “some of the parts of the brain we use to put the pieces together as we understand language and music seem to overlap, and that has implications for studying language disorders.”
Music experience also has a positive impact on healthy individuals’ verbal abilities, studies show. Nina Kraus, director of the Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, and colleagues found that, in noisy environments, musicians could hear speech better than non-musicians.
There is even speculation that music came before talk: Charles Darwin wrote that singing evolved before speech in humans, he said. Like birds, singing may have functioned in mating calls, the theory goes. Some scientists agree; others think music is just an invention, he said.
tones, chords, and harmony
Who thinks that music is just an invention? Do you agree?
What came first, in your opinion, music or talk?
Who would benefit from the singing therapy, according to this article?
When does “music” or “sound” become involved when learning to speak a language or communicate basic needs? Discuss this.
Why is singing therapy not yet widespread, even though it is scientifically sound and has been proven to be successful?
TRUE OR FALSE:
When processing spoken language, the areas and signals of the brain used to process instrumental music are activated.
FILL IN THE BLANKS:
“Your knowledge of _______ and _______ is different from your knowledge of _____ and _______ and __________,” he said. Yet “some of the parts of the _____ we use to put the pieces together as we understand _______ and ________ seem to overlap, and that has implications for studying language disorders.”