A classic observation in neurology is that aphasics can sing words they cannot pronounce otherwise. To further assess this claim, we investigated the production of sung and spoken utterances in eight brain-damaged patients suffering from a variety of speech disorders as a consequence of a left-hemisphere lesion. In Experiment 1, the patients were tested in the repetitionand recall of words and notes of familiar material. Lyrics of familiar songs, as well as words of proverbs and prayers, were not better pronounced in singing than in speaking. Notes were better produced than words. In Experiment 2, the aphasic patients repeated and recalled lyrics from novel songs. Again, they did not produce more words in singing than in speaking. In Experiment 3, when allowedto sing or speak along with an auditory model while learning novel songs, aphasics repeated and recalled more words when singing than when speaking. Reduced speed or shadowing cannot account for this advantage of singing along over speaking in unison. The results suggest that singing in synchrony with an auditory model—choral singing—is more effective than choral speech, at least in French, inimproving word intelligibility because choral singing may entrain more than one auditory–vocal interface. Thus, choral singing appears to be an effective means of speech therapy.
Key Words: aphasia; singing; speech; melodic intonation therapy; music
Abbreviations: MIT, Melodic Intonation Therapy
Received June 26, 2006. Revised August 11, 2006. Accepted August 14, 2006.
Language plasticityin aphasics after recovery: Evidence from slow evoked potentials.
Spironelli C, Angrilli A, Pertile M.
Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Via Venezia 8, 35131 Padova, Italy.
With the present experiment we sought to investigate brain plasticity underlying language recovery in a group of seventeen patients with non-fluent aphasia mainly caused by stroke.Patients were screened along three domains of measures: analysis of linguistic components by the Aachener Aphasie Test, combined mapping of their lesion from CT/MRI scans, and functional measure of the reorganized linguistic processes by means of mapping of slow evoked potentials. The spatial dimension and temporal dynamics of word processing were measured in three tasks, Phonological, Semantic andOrthographic. Compared with the matched control group, patients showed relative inhibition (decreased negativity) of left central regions in perisylvian areas, which were damaged in most subjects. In addition, reorganization of linguistic functions occurred within the left hemisphere both at frontal and posterior sites corresponding to spared brain regions. Correlations between linguisticlateralization in the three tasks and AAT subtests point to functional reorganization of phonological processes over left frontal sites and dysfunctional reorganization of semantic processing over left posterior regions.
New York Times, Personal Health, C13, Wednedsay, June 10, 1992
Jane E. Brody
Phil G. was lucky to have survived his auto accident. He recovered nicely from his various physicalinjuries, but was unprepared for aphasia, the speech and writing difficulties that persisted after the swelling of his brain subsided.
As a single young man and a journalist, Phil depended both socially and vocationally on his way with words. Now he found himself continually at a loss for words. His speech was slow and deliberate, often marked by an inability to think of or say the right words. Whenlistening to others he had difficulty keeping up with the speaker, and when trying to take notes he often could not remember how to write certain words.
Articles that he could once write in a few hours were now taking him days. His social life also ground to a halt now that it took minutes to convey in halting speech thoughts he once expressed glibly in a few seconds.
It is not hard to...