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Singing improves language skills in stroke-damaged brains

Summary: Singing may improve language recovery in stroke patients by repairing the brain’s language network. This positive effect is attributed to increased gray matter volume in language regions and improved connectivity within the network. The study suggests that singing may be a cost-effective addition to traditional rehabilitation methods.


  • Singing increases the volume of gray matter in the language regions of the brain.
  • Singing improves connectivity within the brain’s language network.
  • Singing is a cost-effective addition to traditional rehabilitation methods.

Source: University of Helsinki

Strokes, or strokes, are the most common cause of aphasia, a speech disorder that originates in the brain.

People with aphasia have a reduced ability to understand or produce spoken or written language. It is estimated that 40% of people who have had a stroke have aphasia. Nearly half of them show symptoms of aphasia even a year after the initial attack.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki previously found that singing music helped stroke patients’ language recovery. Now, researchers have discovered the reason for the rehabilitative effect of singing.

The recently completed study was published in the in Euro newspaper.

It shows a person singing.
The language network processes language and speech in our brain. In aphasic patients, the network was damaged. Credit: Neuroscience News

According to the results, singing, so to speak, repairs the structural language network of the brain. The language network processes language and speech in our brain. In aphasic patients, the network was damaged.

“For the first time, our results demonstrate that the rehabilitation of aphasic patients through singing is based on changes in neuroplasticity, that is to say the plasticity of the brain,” explains a university researcher. Aleksi Sihvonen from the University of Helsinki.

Singing improves language network pathways

The language network encompasses the cortical regions of the brain involved in language and speech processing, as well as the white matter pathways that transmit information between different end points of the cortex.

According to the results of the study, singing increases the volume of gray matter in the linguistic regions of the left frontal lobe and improves the connectivity of pathways particularly in the linguistic network of the left hemisphere, but also in the right hemisphere.

“These positive changes were associated with better speech production in patients,” says Sihvonen.

A total of 54 aphasic patients participated in the study, 28 of whom underwent MRI at the beginning and end of the study. Researchers studied the rehabilitative effect of singing using choral singing, music therapy and singing exercises at home.

Singing is a cost-effective treatment

Aphasia has a considerable effect on the functional capacity and quality of life of those affected and easily leads to social isolation.

According to Sihvonen, singing can be seen as a cost-effective complement to conventional forms of rehabilitation, or as rehabilitation for mild speech disorders in cases where access to other types of rehabilitation is limited.

“Patients can also sing with their family members, and singing can be organized in care units as part of cost-effective group rehabilitation,” says Sihvonen.

About this news from research in language and neurology

Author: Elina Kirvesniemi
Source: University of Helsinki
Contact: Elina Kirvesniemi – University of Helsinki
Picture: Image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original research: Free access.
“Structural neuroplasticity effects of singing in chronic aphasia” by Aleksi Sihvonen et al. in Euro


Structural effects of singing neuroplasticity in chronic aphasia

Singing-based aphasia treatments may improve language outcomes, but the neural benefits of group singing in aphasia are unknown.

Here, we set out to determine the structural changes in neuroplasticity that underlie the effects of group singing-induced treatment in chronic aphasia.

Twenty-eight patients with at least mild, nonfluent aphasia after stroke were randomized into two groups receiving a 4-month multicomponent singing intervention (singing group) or standard care (control group).

High-resolution T1 images and multilayer diffusion-weighted MRI data were collected at two time points (baseline/5 months).

Structural changes in gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) neuroplasticity were assessed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) based on the region of interest of the language network and anisotropy-based quantitative connectometry, and their associations with better linguistic outcomes (Western Aphasia Battery Naming and repetition) were evaluated.

Connectometry analyzes showed that the singing group improved WM structural connectivity in the left arcuate fasciculus (AF) and corpus callosum as well as in the frontal oblique tract (FAT), superior longitudinal fasciculus, and corticostriatal tract of bilaterally compared to the control group.

Additionally, in VBM, the singing group showed increased GM volume in the left inferior frontal cortex (Brodmann area 44) compared to the control group.

Neuroplasticity effects in left BA44, AF, and FAT correlated with improvement in naming abilities after intervention.

These results suggest that in the post-stroke aphasic group, singing may lead to structural neuroplasticity changes in left frontal language areas and bilateral language pathways, which support song-induced enhancement of speech production. treatment.

News Source : neurosciencenews.com
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