Vocal Music Boosts the Recovery of Language Functions After Stroke

Research has shown that listening to music daily improves language recovery in patients who have experienced a stroke. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the phenomenon have so far remained unknown.

A study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Turku University Hospital Neurocenter compared the effect of listening to vocal music, instrumental music and audiobooks on the structural and functional recovery of the language network of patients who had suffered an acute stroke. In addition, the study investigated the links between such changes and language recovery during a three-month follow-up period. The study was published in the eNeuro journal.

Based on the findings, listening to vocal music improved the recovery of the structural connectivity of the language network in the left frontal lobe compared to listening to audiobooks. These structural changes correlated with the recovery of language skills.

“For the first time, we were able to demonstrate that the positive effects of vocal music are related to the structural and functional plasticity of the language network. This expands our understanding of the mechanisms of action of music-based neurological rehabilitation methods,” says Postdoctoral Researcher Aleksi Sihvonen.

Listening to music supports other rehabilitation

Aphasia, a language impairment resulting from a stroke, causes considerable suffering to patients and their families. Current therapies help in the rehabilitation of language impairments, but the results vary and the necessary rehabilitation is often not available to a sufficient degree and early enough.

“Listening to vocal music can be considered a measure that enhances conventional forms of rehabilitation in healthcare. Such activity can be easily, safely and efficiently arranged even in the early stages of rehabilitation,” Sihvonen says.

According to Sihvonen, listening to music could be used as a cost-efficient boost to normal rehabilitation, or for rehabilitating patients with mild speech disorders when other rehabilitation options are scarce.

After a disturbance of the cerebral circulation, the brain needs stimulation to recover as well as possible. This is the goal of conventional rehabilitation methods as well.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the time spent in hospital is not stimulating. At these times, listening to music could serve as an additional and sensible rehabilitation measure that can have a positive effect on recovery, improving the prognosis,” Sihvonen adds.

Source: University of Helsinki

Missing Teeth, Higher Odds for Dementia?

Brushing and flossing is good not only for your teeth: It might also benefit your brain, a new study suggests.

The findings showed that tooth loss is tied to an increased risk of dementia, though getting dentures may help reduce that risk.

For the study, New York University researchers analyzed 14 studies that included more than 34,000 older adults and nearly 4,700 with diminished thinking (“cognitive function”) skills.

The investigators found that adults with more tooth loss had 1.48 times the risk of developing impaired thinking and a 1.28 times increased risk of dementia.

“Our findings underscore the importance of maintaining good oral health and its role in helping to preserve cognitive function,” said senior author Bei Wu, co-director of the Aging Incubator at New York University in New York City.

The more teeth lost, the greater the risk, her team found.

Each additional tooth lost was associated with a 1.4% higher risk of thinking impairment and 1.1% higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia.

But timely treatment with dentures may help, the findings suggest.

People who were missing teeth were less likely to have impaired thinking if they had dentures (nearly 17%) than if they did not (24%), according to the report published in

JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine


About one in six U.S. seniors have lost all of their teeth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. However, previous research has found a link between tooth loss and cognitive decline and suggested a number of possible reasons.

Missing teeth make it difficult to chew, which may lead to nutritional deficiencies or trigger brain changes. There’s also increasing evidence of a connection between gum disease (a leading cause of tooth loss) and thinking decline.

Also, tooth loss may be caused by lifelong socioeconomic disadvantages that are also risk factors for cognitive decline.

“Given the staggering number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia each year, and the opportunity to improve oral health across the lifespan, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between poor oral health and cognitive decline,” Wu said in a university news release.

Source: HealthDay

Sicilian Spaghetti with Sardines


12 fresh sardines, cleaned and boned
1 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup dill sprigs
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in water
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 pound spaghetti
flour for dusting


  1. Wash the sardines and pat dry on paper towels. Open them out flat, then cut in half lengthwise.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan, add the onion and fry until golden. Add the dill and cook gently for a minute or two.
  3. Add the pine nuts and raisins and season with salt.
  4. Dry-fry the bread crumbs in a frying pan until golden. Set aside.
  5. Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water according to the instructions on the package, until al dente.
  6. Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Dust the sardines with flour and fry in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Drain the spaghetti and return to the pan. Add the onion mixture and toss well.
  8. Transfer the spaghetti mixture to a serving platter and arrange the fried sardines on top. Sprinkle with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Healthy Meriterranean Cookbook

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