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Music may help restore sight to stroke patients suffering from visual neglect, research suggests.

Following a BBC News story, HealthDay (3/25, Preidt) reported that, according to a study published Mar. 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, music may “help restore sight to” recovering stroke patients who suffer from “impaired visual awareness called visual neglect.” For the study, researchers from the UK’s Imperial College London examined “three stroke survivors who’d lost awareness of half of their field of vision.” The patients “completed vision tasks in three settings: listening to their preferred music; listening to music they didn’t like; and in silence.” The team found that all three “patients were better able to identify colored shapes and red lights in their depleted side of vision when they listened to music they liked, compared with music they didn’t like, or silence.”

“That improvement came with activity in brain areas related to enjoyment, according to a functional MRI brain scan that one of the patients got while taking the tests,” WebMD (3/25, Hitti) explained. The authors called the study’s results “very promising,” but said that “larger studies are needed.” They also said the findings suggested that clinicians should “think more carefully about the individual emotional factors in patients with visual neglect and in other neurological patients following a stroke.”

MedWire (3/25, Cowen) pointed out that “an estimated 60 percent of stroke patients suffer from impaired visual awareness…in which they have problems interacting with certain objects in the visual world. This is caused by damage in brain areas that are critical for the integration of vision, attention, and action.” For example, “patients who have suffered a stroke in the right side of the brain lose awareness of objects in their left field of vision, while those who have suffered strokes in the left side of the brain lose awareness of objects in their right field of vision.”