Thursday, March 11, 2010

Music, Language, and Workarounds for (Some) Stroke Victims

"Research finds brain link for words, music ability"
The Associated Press (Feb 20, 2010)

"Words and music, such natural partners that it seems obvious they go together. Now science is confirming that those abilities are linked in the brain, a finding that might even lead to better stroke treatments.

"Studies have found overlap in the brain's processing of language and instrumental music, and new research suggests that intensive musical therapy may help improve speech in stroke patients, researchers said Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"In addition, researchers said, music education can help children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately use speech.

"People who have suffered a severe stroke on the left side of the brain and cannot speak can sometimes learn to communicate through singing, Gottfried Schlaug, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School told the meeting...."

I've known that people who stutter can sing as well as anyone: a handy work-around for someone wanting to communicate.

According to the article, musicians are able to sort out a friend's voice from other voices in a crowded room more easily than most. They've spent more time training parts of their brains to process sounds than most of us: and what they use for making music apparently carries over into other sound-perception situations.

Which reminds me of a joke. (You can stop reading this post now: That last paragraph is the last you'll see of the AP article here.)

Seaman Johnson ran into the control room of a naval ship: a breach of protocol at the best of times, and with an admiral on board the captain was doubly - ah, annoyed.

The seaman said, "Thu-thu-thu-thu-thu," stopped and tried again. "Thad-thad-thad-thad-thad - - -". At this point, the Captain roared "Sing it out, Johnson!" Johnson took a deep breath, and sang, to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne", "the admiral's fallen overboard, he's half a mile behind!"

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