More study needed to see if rhythm and formulaic phrases could lead to improved speech therapies.
Singing helps some stroke patients suffering from non-fluent aphasia—severe difficulties with speech—re-learn how to speak, according to a new study.
Researchers in Germany pointed out, however, it’s the rhythm and formulaic phrases associated with singing—not the melodies—that seem to make the difference.
The lyrics and phrases the patients were most familiar with had the biggest impact on the their articulation—even when they were just spoken and not sung, the investigators found. They concluded that the findings could lead to the development of new therapies for speech disorders.
Speaking difficulties are common among people who suffer strokes that damage speech areas in the brain’s left hemisphere. But the right side of the brain, which supports important functions of singing, often remains intact in these patients. Previous research suggested singing would stimulate areas in the right hemisphere that would take on the speech functions of the damaged areas.