Dissociations Entre Musique et Langage Apres Atteinte Cerebrale: Un Nouveau Cas D'amusie Sans Aphasie

Article excerpt


We present the neuropsychological study of a patient, I.R., who sustained bilateral damage to the temporal lobes and to the right frontal lobe as a result of successive brain surgeries that occurred ten years earlier. The patient is 40 years old and right-handed; she had no special training in music or in language, representing, therefore, the large majority of listeners. Her performance is compared to that of four neurologically intact subjects who are closely matched in terms of education, sex and age. In the present study, we report I.R.'s performance on various tests aiming at assessing her general cognitive functioning with a particular focus on auditory aspects. The results show that, despite extensive damage to her auditory cortex, I.R.'s speech abilities are essentially intact (see Tables 1 and 2). The only impairments that are detected in the language domain are related to a short-term memory deficit, to some abnormal sensitivity to retroactive interference in long-term memory (see Table 3) and to articulation. These difficulties do not, however, affect linguistic communication, which is obviously undisturbed (i.e. I.R. is not aphasic). Similarly, I.R. does not experience any difficulty in the recognition and memorization of familiar sounds such as animal cries, traffic noises and the like (see Tables 5 and 7). In contrast, I.R. is severely impaired in most musical abilities: She can no longer discriminate nor identify melodies that were once highly familiar to her; she can no longer discriminate nor memorize novel melodies (see Table 4). Her pattern of musical losses is compatible with a basic and severe perceptual deficit that compromises access to and registration in memory systems.

The observation that the auditory impairment affects music and spares language and environmental sounds refers to a neuropsychological condition that is known as music agnosia. …