What is the role of music in the rehabilitation following middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke?

Updated: Aug 09, 2021
  • Author: Daniel I Slater, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Särkämö et al found evidence that in patients with MCA stroke, listening to music during their recovery period can aid parts of the brain relating to verbal memory, attention, and language. In the study, the investigators examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans performed during the acute stage in 49 patients with MCA stroke and 6 months poststroke, including in 16 patients who listened to their favorite music during recovery, 18 patients who listened to audio books, and 15 patients who received no listening materials during their recovery. [27]

Patients in each of the three groups were found by 6-month follow-up to have undergone significant increases in the volume of gray matter in their brains. However, in patients with left hemisphere damage, those who listened to music showed greater volume increases in parts of the frontal lobe, specifically the left and right superior frontal gyrus and the right medial superior frontal gyrus, as well as in the limbic region, specifically the left ventral/subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and the right ventral striatum, than did those in the other two groups. According to the authors, a correlation existed between the changes in the above-listed regions of the frontal lobe and enhanced improvement in the patients’ language skills, verbal memory, and ability to focus attention, with a correlation also being observed between changes in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and mood improvement. [27]

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