The Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess & Harvard Medical School researches the use of music and musical stimuli as an interventional tool for educational and therapeutic purposes.
In the Lab’s study of singing therapy, which they call ‘melodic intonation therapy, post-stroke patients are assigned to a form of conventional speech therapy or to singing therapy. They undergo 90 minutes of treatment a day for 15 weeks and are reporting positive results in helping people to speak again. He also reports good results working with autistic children and people with Parkinson’s disease who have trouble speaking.
Another study found that the cerebellum, which contains about 70 percent of the brain’s neurons, is about 5 percent larger in expert male musicians than in men who have not had extensive musical training.
A team led by Professor Suzanne Purdy at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research is researching the value of its CeleBRation Choir for people who have communication problems through brain disease. The members of the Choir are people who live with the effects of stroke, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, along with other neurological conditions. People with these conditions may have problems speaking but find they can still sing.
A study focusing on people with Parkinson’s Disease says that: a) musical rhythm in group singing may enhance quality of life, and rehabilitation b) singing produces two socio-psychological states – connectedness and flow – that may yield these health benefits c) the best results are likely to come from familiar music with melodic distinctiveness and a regular beat.