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Brain Inj. 2011;25(7-8):787-93. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2011.576305. Epub 2011 May 11.

Music-supported therapy induces plasticity in the sensorimotor cortex in chronic stroke: a single-case study using multimodal imaging (fMRI-TMS).

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  • 1Department of Psicologia Bàsica, Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron 171, Barcelona, Spain.



Music-Supported Therapy (MST) has been developed recently in order to improve the use of the affected upper extremity after stroke. This study investigated the neuroplastic mechanisms underlying effectiveness in a patient with chronic stroke.


MST uses musical instruments, a midi piano and an electronic drum set emitting piano sounds, to retrain fine and gross movements of the paretic upper extremity. Data are presented from a patient with a chronic stroke (20 months post-stroke) with residual right-sided hemiparesis who took part in 20 MST sessions over the course of 4 weeks.


Post-therapy, a marked improvement of movement quality, assessed by 3D movement analysis, was observed. Moreover, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of a sequential hand movement revealed distinct therapy-related changes in the form of a reduction of excess contralateral and ipsilateral activations. This was accompanied by changes in cortical excitability evidenced by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Functional MRI in a music listening task suggests that one of the effects of MST is the task-dependent coupling of auditory and motor cortical areas.


The MST appears to be a useful neurorehabilitation tool in patients with chronic stroke and leads to neural reorganization in the sensorimotor cortex.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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