As seen on Discover Magazine, and reported by others:
Experts researching patients who have lost their ability to speak after a stroke are now suggesting that they could be able to communicate with music using Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT). Using MIT, the scientists showed that patients who were earlier communicating only in mumbles and grunts could now learn to sing out basic phrases like “I am thirsty.”
The study was conducted by Harvard Medical School neurologist Gottfried Schlaug on 12 patients whose speech was impaired by strokes, and showed that patients who were taught to essentially sing their words improved their verbal abilities and maintained the improvement for up to a month after the end of the therapy [Wall Street Journal]. Schlaug presented these findings at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.
The researchers worked with stroke patients whose speech was incoherent, and who had damage in a region of the left side of the brain that is typically involved in speech. Schlaug’s research suggests that the brain can be essentially rewired. Stroke patients can learn to use a region on the right side of the brain, which is typically involved with music, for sing-songy speech instead. “Singing can give entry into a broken system by engaging the right hemisphere,” says Schlaug [ScienceNOW Daily News].