Pop Music Can Aid Brain Injury Rehab, Scientists Find

A Landmark Study Has Shown That Pop Music Can Improve Brain Injury Patients' Memories

16.12.2013

Scientists believe people who suffer serious brain injuries could benefit from listening to pop music during their recovery.

A landmark study conducted by researchers Amee Baird and Severine Samson has shown that music brought back personal memories for patients who took part in the experiments.

The duo played tunes to five people who had an acquired brain injury and then played the music to five healthy subjects.

Each track had been selected from different points in a person's life and they were asked to jot down what entered their mind when they first heard it.

The scientists found the group who had suffered a head injury recorded a similar number of responses to the other subjects. Only one person failed to note down any memories or thoughts.

Published by Taylor & Francis, the results indicated the majority of memories recorded by the groups were positive.

Baird and Samson believe pop music could potentially be used to help brain injury patients regain lost memories.

"The findings suggest that music is an effective stimulus for eliciting autobiographical memories and may be beneficial in the rehabilitation of autobiographical amnesia, but only in patients without a fundamental deficit in autobiographical recall memory and intact pitch perception," they commented.

Figures provided by brain injury charity Headway show that one million people are living with the long-term effects of a brain injury in the UK, with up to 20,000 severe accidents being reported each year.

With hospital admissions increasing by more than a third in the last decade, it is important that new procedures and techniques are identified to aid the rehabilitation process.

Baird and Samson hope the study, the findings of which can be found in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, will prompt other researchers to conduct further tests.

They said more work is needed to help scientists "understand the mechanisms underlying the unique memory enhancing effect of music" in the future.

Expert Opinion
The study suggesting music from a person’s past can help brain injury rehabilitation is certainly a very interesting one. If personal memories can be brought back and stimulated by listening to music then this is another remarkable step in helping brain injury sufferers through the recovery stage.

“It is always valuable to push the boundaries and ensure that new avenues are explored to help develop methods to assist with brain injury rehabilitation.
Neil Whiteley, Partner