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Music in research and rehabilitation of disorders of consciousness: Psychological and neurophysiological foundations

By Boris eKotchoubey, Jury ePavlov, Jury ePavlov and Boris eKleber

Abstract

According to a prevailing view, the visual system works by dissecting stimuli into primitives, whereas the auditory system processes simple and complex stimuli with their corresponding features in parallel. This makes musical stimulation particularly suitable for patients with disorders of consciousness (DoC), because the processing pathways related to complex stimulus features can be preserved even when those related to simple features are no longer available. An additional factor speaking in favor of musical stimulation in DoC is the low efficiency of visual stimulation due to prevalent maladies of vision or gaze fixation in DOC patients. Hearing disorders, in contrast, are much less frequent in DoC, which allows us to use auditory stimulation at various levels of complexity. The current paper overviews empirical data concerning the four main domains of brain functioning in DoC patients that musical stimulation can address: perception (e.g., pitch, timbre, and harmony), cognition (e.g., musical syntax and meaning), emotions, and motor functions. Music can approach basic levels of patients’ self-consciousness, which may even exist when all higher-level cognitions are lost, whereas music induced emotions and rhythmic stimulation can affect the dopaminergic reward-system and activity in the motor system respectively, thus serving as a starting point for rehabilitation

Topics: Consciousness, Music, Neurophysiology, Psychology, Rehabilitation, DOC, Psychology, BF1-990
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01763
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:0cbd10f4ad414d7291e48d0207e0c4f7
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