NEWS - News: Music Helps Stroke Victims Recover Memory

Posted by USM on Monday, February 16, 2009 @ 19:18:21 CST
2 Music hits the right note after a stroke

A little Beethoven is good for the brain, according to a Finnish study published today showing that music helps people recover more quickly from strokes.

And patients who listened to a few hours of music each day soon after a stroke also improved their verbal memory and were in a better mood compared to patients who did not listen to music or used audio books, the researchers said.

Music therapy has long been used in a range of treatments but the study published in the journal Brain is the first to show the effect in people, they added.

Strokes, which occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked, can kill brain tissue and are one of the worldwide leading causes of death and permanent disability. Treatments include blood thinning drugs and attempts to lower cholesterol.

The study involved 60 people who recently had a stroke of the middle cerebral artery in the left or right side of the brain. This is the most common stroke and can affect motor control, speech and a range of other cognitive functions.

One group listened to their favourite music every day or used audio books while another did not listen to any music. All volunteers received standard rehabilitation treatment.

Three months after stroke music listeners showed a 60 per cent better improvement in verbal memory compared to an 18 per cent benefit for those using audio books and 29 per cent for people who did not listen to either.

The ability to focus attention also improved by 17 per cent in music listeners, said Teppo Sarkamo of the Cognitive Brain Research Unit at the University of Helsinki, who led the study.

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