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Clinical Music Therapy Treatment Addressing Autism Characteristics

Maria Leticia Alberti, MT-BMT, FLENI Neuro-rehabilitation Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina

March 25, 2011
10 minutes
Maria Leticia Alberti


Maria Leticia Alberti is at the Fundación para la Lucha contra las Enfermedades Neurológicas de la Infancia. Buenos Aires, Argentina. She works on the concept that “Evidence that melody can facilitate memory rehabilitation in an amnesiac patient."

Little systematic investigation has examined the amnesiac patient’s ability to learn a new song. This experiment aimed to determine whether melody facilitated the recall of learned song lyrics in an amnesic patient. A male subject with severe traumatic brain injury presented with severe anterograde amnesia, and preserved implicit memory. Premorbidly, the patient had had some musical knowledge. Three years post-injury, he underwent a detailed musical assessment.

Two new and unfamiliar songs were selected and presented to the patient (lyrics alone, and combined lyrics with melody) over a 10 day period. A procedure related to the stem completion tasks used in implicit memory was used and the patient was asked to generate the lyrics of the song and verse he was taught. In both cases, he was cued to produce a target line of the lyric or melodic phrase in response to cueing with the preceding line or phrase. The instructions were implicit insofar as no references to previous episodes were made. Results indicated that the subject showed a significant improvement in recalling the melodic phrase over the unsung lyrics learned without melody.