Preservation of Singing Functioning in a 5 Year-Old Following Severe Right-Sided Traumatic Brain Injury: Insights into the Neurological Resilience of Song from Pediatric Music Therapy


  • Ellen C. Gentle
  • Melinda Barker
  • Janeen Bower



Studies examining song functioning in childhood are of particular importance when devising developmentally appropriate evidence-based Music Therapy (MT) interventions during recovery from brain injury. In comparison to adult studies where neural organization may be well defined, the neural organization of song in the developing brain has been under-researched. This includes functional consequences following neurological insult. This case study documents a 5 year-old female with typically developing language and verbal memory that suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Despite extensive right hemisphere damage, her recognition and memory of previously well-learned (familiar) songs was preserved. New learning and retention of unfamiliar songs with lyrics was also observed and was not predicted based on adult models of melodic learning. Findings suggest that the song system in childhood is a neurologically significant, robust system not easily disrupted following extensive brain injury, and caution against assuming adult models of music organisation in the developing brain.






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