Sunday, November 15, 2009

Aphasia and sing along

Monday, November 9, 2009

Music Lessons Boost Brain Power

WASHINGTON — For those who seriously practiced a musical instrument when they were young, the experience was more than just entertainment. Recent research shows a strong correlation between musical training for children and certain mental abilities.

The research was discussed at a session at a recent gathering of acoustics experts in Austin, Texas.

Laurel Trainor, director of the Institute for Music and the Mind at McMaster University in West Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues compared preschool children who had taken music lessons with those who did not. Those with some training showed larger brain responses on a number of sound recognition tests given to the children. Her research indicated that musical training appears to modify the brain's auditory cortex.

Can larger claims be made for the influence on the brain of musical training? Does training change thinking or cognition in general? NEXT...............

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Music Therapy Helps Stroke Patients Recover

Few people over the age of 10 would list "Happy Birthday" among their favorite songs. But Harvey Alter, now 62, has a special fondness for it. It helped teach him how to talk.

One morning in June 2003, Alter, then a self-employed criminologist, was putting a leash on his dog, Sam, in preparation for a walk when suddenly he felt dizzy and disoriented.

"My thoughts were intertwined, not making sense," he said in a recent interview. "I knew I was having a stroke."

At St. Vincent's Hospital, doctors diagnosed an ischemic stroke, caused by a blockage in blood flow to part of the left half of his brain. As a result, the right side of his body was temporarily paralyzed, the right side of his face drooped and he had trouble coming up with the right words and stringing them into sentences - a condition called aphasia.

Within hours of his stroke, Alter met with Loni Burke, a speech therapist. At first he was completely nonverbal; within a few days he could say small words.

"Mostly, he said, 'No,' " Burke recalled, "because he was frustrated that he couldn't speak."