Music As Medicine
We have talked about music and learning in the past. We have discussed meditation and DNA longevity. How about music and healing from a stroke?
In the April 2015 edition of Scientific American, William Thompson and Gottfried Schlaug give us a glimpse into a new and revolutionary way to heal from a catastrophic stroke that effects Broca's area, the speech center. A tragic story occurred where an 11 year old girl named Laurel suffered a stroke in Broca's area. The affect of the stroke was permanent or so the parents were told. Laurel could understand but not communicate. Locked in verbally.
Then she started a treatment known now as melodic intonation therapy, or singing to trigger another part of the brain to bypass the damaged speech center. The treatment starts with short phrases that are sung in combination with a tapping regimen for the syllables. As the patient improves the phrases and sing song lengthens. Pitch, tone, meter are all adjusted to recruit even more brain areas responsible for speech perception and sensory functions. Different parts of the hemispheres of the brain begin to compensate for the damaged side.
This is a classic case of neural plasticity and recruitment, the ability of the brain to grow new neurons and regenerate in the face of damage. We are seeing this more and more in the literature. It is spawning new companies like Lumosity and other neural training programs. I remember my early years of training in medical school. My neurology rotations were a tour in finding the lesion, naming it and telling the patient that there is nothing that we can do. How far we have come. This is what makes medicine so fantastic.
We know that listening to music is emotional, engaging and social. I still can place experiences in my life to songs. I remember years by the songs that I loved at the time. I remember specific moments with unbelievable clarity when I think of a song like All of my love by Led Zeppelin or Summer Nights by Van Halen. As we learn more about neural plasticity, I am convinced that listening to music is a major advantage in the regeneration of neurons and the preservation of old ones that help with memory. No Alzheimer's here thank you.
Stories like Laurel are a shot in the arm for those with disorders of the brain. Read the whole article.
Music is the greatest art form that there is! (my opinion)