Making or listening to music improves stroke, dementia and autism sufferers’ ability to communicate, new research reveals.
It also benefits their families by making them feel less isolated and neglected from their communities, a study found.
Music may help verbally-challenged people communicate by allowing them to explore their creativity, according to the researchers.
Lead author Professor Jocey Quinn from the University of Plymouth, said: ‘What we have shown is that music can give people a voice, allowing them to explore their creativity as well as communicating both pleasure and pain.
‘Music can enable carers and families to see the full potential of the individual, while in someone with dementia, a person’s identity can re-emerge when families might have thought it had been lost.’
Listening to music helps stroke, dementia and autism sufferers communicate (stock)
PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT MAKES US BETTER LISTENERS
Playing an instrument makes us better listeners by altering our brain waves, research revealed earlier this month.
In the first study of its kind, researchers demonstrated making music significantly alters activity in the areas of our brain associated with hearing.
Study author Dr Bernhard Ross from Baycrest Health Sciences hospital in Toronto, said: ‘Music has been known to have beneficial effects on the brain, but there has been limited understanding into what about music makes a difference.
‘This is the first study demonstrating that learning the fine movement needed to reproduce a sound on an instrument changes the brain’s perception of sound in a way that is not seen when listening to music.
‘We saw direct changes in the brain after one session, demonstrating that the action of creating music leads to a strong change in brain activity.’
How the study was carried out
Researchers from the University of Plymouth analyzed 25 ‘post-verbal’ people who attended music sessions over 16 months.
Post-verbal people were defined as those who have difficulty communicating with words, such as sufferers of stroke, dementia and autism.
The sessions included 30 art workshops and four focus groups.
The researchers interviewed 44 family members regarding their relative’s experience of the music sessions.
Regular music sessions boosted the post-verbal participants’ ability to communicate both with other sufferers and ‘healthy’ people.
It also made both the patients and their families feel less isolated and neglected within their communities.
Lead author Professor Jocey Quinn said: ‘What we have shown is that music can give people a voice, allowing them to explore their creativity as well as communicating both pleasure and pain.
‘In post-verbal children, music can enable carers and families to see the full potential of the individual, while in someone with dementia, a person’s identity can re-emerge when families might have thought it had been lost.’
Debbie Geraghty, chief executive of the charity Plymouth Music Zone, which was involved in the study added: ‘This research really shines a light on the tremendous personal and social impacts music can have on individuals and, indeed, how to go about using music to achieve those changes.
‘Surprisingly for us though, it shows just how much those effects really ripple out among families’.