Singing Can “Rewire” Damaged Brains

For a long time, we have known that people who have lost the ability to speak words can often still sing them. Most people’s language is handled by the left brain, while music brings the right side into play in the process of singing words.
Now a study reports that new connections are being made by this process, at least in stroke survivors ( There appears to be new compensatory wiring in the right brain when the left side has been damaged and music therapy is applied.
This leads to another question: How else can such “rewiring” be stimulated in brains damaged by strokes, Alzheimer’s, etc. Can an environment with positive, nurturing relationships, empowerment, engagement and meaning have a similar effect?
Tom Kitwood believed so. He theorized that “rementing’ could occur in dementia given the right environment. It’s looking more and more possible with each new study.

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4 Responses to Singing Can “Rewire” Damaged Brains

  1. profitrain says:

    Thanks for a great article that will offer hope to many.
    Having read the book “The brain that changes itself” by Norman Doidge I’m not surprised that examples like this are found and, I hope, will lead to better treatments for brain injury and disease.
    I’m fascinated with the human neurological system ( as a medical layman having no medical training at all) and the way that severely disabled people, (from birth, injury or disease), are able to make fantastic progress when given the opportunity to be nurtured and allowed to build or rebuild neural pathways. An example is Milton Erickson (“father” of modern hypnosis) who in his late teens or early 20’s taught himself how to walk again after becoming paralysed by modelling his little sister as he watched her learn to walk. This process enabled his neurolgical system to build or repair, or both, the needed neurologicl pathways for him to walk. Norman Doidge’s book has many examples of brain plasticity which are quite remarkable, perhaps better described as fantastic or miraculous.
    None of us should wait until we are in crisis to utilise these findings. We can all develop new neurological pathways while we remain healthy by doing ordinary things differently and experiencing new things. This should help us all perform better and remain mentally healthy for longer in our lives.

  2. Pingback: Brain Power « Profitrain

  3. apeden10 says:

    Thanks for your input. I haven’t read the Doidge book yet, and appreciate the reference!

  4. Freda says:

    Just wanted to welcome you to the world of personal blogging and to make a quick comment. I am a retired presbyterian minister and when I was working with older people in nursing homes it was amazing how singing hymns and old songs with people could make their faces light up and energy return. It really does work.

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