Journal Article

Making non-fluent aphasics speak: sing along!

Amélie Racette, Céline Bard and Isabelle Peretz

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 129, issue 10, pages 2571-2584
ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online September 2006 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awl250
Making non-fluent aphasics speak: sing along!

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A classic observation in neurology is that aphasics can sing words they cannot pronounce otherwise. To further assess this claim, we investigated the production of sung and spoken utterances in eight brain-damaged patients suffering from a variety of speech disorders as a consequence of a left-hemisphere lesion. In Experiment 1, the patients were tested in the repetition and recall of words and notes of familiar material. Lyrics of familiar songs, as well as words of proverbs and prayers, were not better pronounced in singing than in speaking. Notes were better produced than words. In Experiment 2, the aphasic patients repeated and recalled lyrics from novel songs. Again, they did not produce more words in singing than in speaking. In Experiment 3, when allowed to sing or speak along with an auditory model while learning novel songs, aphasics repeated and recalled more words when singing than when speaking. Reduced speed or shadowing cannot account for this advantage of singing along over speaking in unison. The results suggest that singing in synchrony with an auditory model—choral singing—is more effective than choral speech, at least in French, in improving word intelligibility because choral singing may entrain more than one auditory–vocal interface. Thus, choral singing appears to be an effective means of speech therapy.

Keywords: aphasia; singing; speech; melodic intonation therapy; music

Journal Article.  9470 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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