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Re: Musical abilities are among the last to be lost in cases of brain damage?

Dear Tom

Clarification: What I said was not meant to have any bearing on melodic intonation therapy. If someone does have relatively spared musical ability after brain damage, which many aphasics clearly do, then indeed one may be able to harness those abilities for therapeutic purposes. Bravo to those who are trying to figure out how and when this works.

All I said was that I agreed with Dennis Phillips, that it is not very reasonable to assume that music somehow persists after any sort of brain damage. This is what the phrase "Musical abilities are among the last to be lost in cases of brain damage," which is the topic of this thread, strongly implies. It is simply not true, as cases of amusia demonstrate. But that does not mean that in at least some, or perhaps even many cases, it might be true. Just that it is not correct to think that any and all kinds of brain damage affecting everything else spares music, or that music is always the last to be lost. Sometimes it's the first to be lost.

I suppose much hinges on Sacks' sentence, which as quoted by Chen-Gia Tsai, contains the word "often" (and this was omitted in further discussion). How often, one would like to know, is music spared, and where is the solid evidence for it? And is it "often" spared for certain kinds of brain damage, but "rarely" spared with other kinds? These are the sorts of questions that should be the topic of research. The interesting observations Sacks refers to are good starting points to develop more fine-grained hypotheses.



At 12:33 27/02/05 -0600, Thomas G Brennan wrote:
Robert, melodic therapies as well as melodic assessments (excluding for fluency
problems) are based not on performance musical abilities but on the fact that it
has been found that both those with stroke induced aphasia as well as those with
tbi who are still motorically functional, at least to some degre, are very often
able to produce some language and imitative behaviors if a melody of any kind is
used even when language is otherwise totally gone such as in global aphasia.
For obvious reasons you can't normally seriously intend that your clinical
clients sing their way through life but for some that is essentially what ends
up happening.  These cases are not just looking at some form of musical ability
but some connection between right and left hemisphere.  I have not seen much of
this kind of reference in split brain research but the above is the basis for
melodic therapy.  I would suggest reading some authors such as Schuel, Jacobson,
Eisenson, or any of the other major names in aphasia work from the '60s through
the mid '80s for more on this as well as look at some of the references in some
of the melodic therapy tests and therapy kits.


Tom Brennan  KD5VIJ, CCC-A/SLP
web page http://titan.sfasu.edu/~g_brennantg/sonicpage.html


Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D.
Montreal Neurological Institute
3801 University St.
Montreal, QC Canada H3A 2B4
phone: 1-514-398-8903
fax: 1-514-398-1338
web site: www.zlab.mcgill.ca