Research has shown that listening to music daily improves language recovery in stroke patients. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the phenomenon have so far remained unknown.
A study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Neurocenter of Turku University Hospital compared the effect of listening to vocal music, instrumental music and audiobooks on the structural and functional recovery of the language network of patients with acute stroke. In addition, the study examined links between such changes and language recovery during a three-month follow-up period. The study was published in the in Euro newspaper.
Based on the results, listening to vocal music improved the recovery of structural connectivity of the language network in the left frontal lobe compared to listening to audiobooks. These structural changes are correlated with the recovery of language skills.
“For the first time, we were able to demonstrate that the positive effects of vocal music are linked to the structural and functional plasticity of the language network. This expands our understanding of the mechanisms of action of music-based neurological rehabilitation methods, ”explains Postdoctoral Fellow Aleksi Sihvonen.
Listening to music supports other rehabilitations
Aphasia, a language disorder resulting from a stroke, causes considerable suffering to patients and their families. Current therapies help in the rehabilitation of speech disorders, but results vary and the necessary rehabilitation is often not available to a sufficient degree and early enough.
“Listening to vocal music can be seen as a measure that improves conventional forms of rehabilitation in health care. Such an activity can be organized easily, safely and efficiently, even in the early stages of rehabilitation, ”says Sihvonen.
Listening to music could be used as a cost-effective boost to normal rehabilitation, or to rehabilitate patients with mild speech impairments when other rehabilitation options are scarce, according to Sihvonen.
After a disturbance in cerebral circulation, the brain needs stimulation to recover as well as possible. This is also the goal of conventional rehabilitation methods.
“Unfortunately, much of the time spent in the hospital is not stimulating. At these times, listening to music could be an additional and wise rehabilitation measure that can have a positive effect on recovery, improving recovery. prognosis, ”adds Sihvonen.