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Originally published May 8 2008

Listening to Music Accelerates Recovery From a Stroke

by Michael Cambray

(NaturalNews) Researchers say regular music sessions, whether classical, jazz or pop, create a pronounced acceleration in the recovery effect from patients suffering debilitating strokes.

Studies by neuroscientist Teppo Sarkamo at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Helsinki University in Finland reported recently that after a stroke the verbal memory of patients was boosted by 60 percent in regular music listeners, 29 percent in non-listeners and 18 percent in audio book listeners.

In comparison, patients who received no musical stimulation had little or no improvement.

The study was undertaken over two years on 60 stroke victims, with an average age of around 60, divided into three groups. Every day one group listened to music, one group to an audio book reading and the third to nothing. During the study they underwent cognitive and psychological tests.
The memory improvements still remained six months after the completion of the trials.

Sarkamo suggests that an arousal of part of the brain created by the melodies is stimulated by the release of the hormonal neurotransmitter, dopamine, enhancing pleasure. The music apparently stimulates the damaged areas of the brain and therefore assists the brain's ability to repair and renew its neural networks after damage.

Sarkamo also says there is considerable research pointing to the benefits of music therapy for many conditions including autism, dementia and schizophrenia. He reports that these findings are the first concrete evidence of the positive effect of music on stroke victims.

Patients who listened to music experienced less depression, emotional stress and to a certain extent, less confused moods. Furthermore, the fact that where possible, the patients chose their own music (mostly containing lyrics) suggesting that the combination of musical components played a role in the observed recovery and advanced attention of cognitive functions. Listening to pleasant music and familiar lyrics activates an interconnected network of subcortical and cortical brain regions.

The conclusion of the trial suggests that everyday music listening during early stroke recovery offers a valuable addition to the patients' care especially if other active forms of rehabilitation are not immediately feasible.

Stroke victims spend a great deal of time in non-therapeutic activities, so the results of this study weaved into the recovery routine of stroke victims would offer an easy and cost effective therapy.


Huch Department of Neurology, Helsinki.

'Arousal and mood hypothesis'.Thornton, 2001.

Nantaais and Schellenberg, 1999.

The Journal 'Brain". UK.

About the author

Michael Cambray is a retired naturopath and has accumulated specialised knowledge of many alternative health subjects over the past thirty years. Michael has diplomas in many alternative subjects and has published 13 books on various topics plus a popular Australian monthly newsletter.

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