Singing a song can delay cognitive impairment, research says

Singing a song can delay cognitive impairment, research says

Scientists in Helsinki, Finland, are studying how singing habits can contribute to the rehabilitation of speech-impaired people, such as actor Bruce Willis, and the prevention of diseases that can lead to cognitive impairment. Aphasia is a condition that affects a patient’s communication skills after a series of brain injuries, for example a stroke.

Despite the difficulties, melodic intonation therapy has shown good results for these patients. That song, instead of speaking the words, can communicate better to some part of the person.

Professor Teppo Sarkamo, coordinator of the Premas project, created an elderly library dedicated to the treatment of patients with aphasia and to family members dedicated to their study. The research team also performed a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the brains of participants and young, middle-aged and older people to compare the data.

The results showed that the brain networks involved in the song underwent fewer changes over the years than those responsible for speech.

In an interview with El País, Särkämö explained that when a person sings, the frontal and parietal systems of the brain are activated and more motor and cognitive resources related to verbal control and functional functions are used. These two systems are responsible for regulating behavior.

In addition, choir members were able to achieve better results on neuropsychological tests, report fewer cognitive difficulties, and demonstrate greater social integration. Tests with electroencephalograms indicate that they have even better hearing processing capabilities, allowing them to gather information about the pitch in the frontotemporal regions of the brain.

The study also found that social interactions related to singing can also delay the onset of dementia.


“Ultimately, the goal of our work with people with speech impairments is to use singing as a means of exercising speech production and ultimately without the need to sing. However, we are seeing in Coral the impact of this intervention as an essential means of communication in people’s daily lives, “says the researcher.

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