Coupling novel verbal material with a musical melody can potentially aid in its learning and recall in healthy subjects, but this has never been systematically studied in stroke patients with cognitive deficits. In a counterbalanced design, we presented novel verbal material (short narrative stories) in both spoken and sung formats to stroke patients at the acute poststroke stage and 6 months poststroke. The task comprised three learning trials and a delayed recall trial. Memory performance on the spoken and sung tasks did not differ at the acute stage, whereas sung stories were learned and recalled significantly better compared with spoken stories at the 6 months poststroke stage. Interestingly, this pattern of results was evident especially in patients with mild aphasia, in whom the learning of sung versus spoken stories improved more from the acute to the 6-month stages compared with nonaphasic patients. Overall, these findings suggest that singing could be used as a mnemonic aid in the learning of novel verbal material in later stages of recovery after stroke.
- verbal learning