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Re: Musical abilities are among the last to be lost in cases of brain damage?
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
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
has been found that both those with stroke induced aphasia as well as
tbi who are still motorically functional, at least to some degre, are
able to produce some language and imitative behaviors if a melody of any
used even when language is otherwise totally gone such as in global
For obvious reasons you can't normally seriously intend that your
clients sing their way through life but for some that is essentially what
up happening. These cases are not just looking at some form of
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
melodic therapy. I would suggest reading some authors such as
Eisenson, or any of the other major names in aphasia work from the '60s
the mid '80s for more on this as well as look at some of the references
of the melodic therapy tests and therapy kits.
Tom Brennan KD5VIJ, CCC-A/SLP
Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D.
Montreal Neurological Institute
3801 University St.
Montreal, QC Canada H3A 2B4