Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT)
by Prof Chris Code
You may know that people with aphasia can often sing better than they can speak. Singing familiar songs can be useful too. The crucial steps come when trying other words that the words of the song, especially the words the speaker wants to say.
Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) has been found to be helpful for many with ‘nonfluent’ aphasia, those who know what they want to say, but can’t.
This may be for a number of reasons, but the finding that the undamaged right hemisphere is closely involved in music production and reception may be a factor. However, the left hemisphere is also involved in music, but probably other aspects of music. It may also be that singing provides a ‘framework’, where the melody, stress and rhythm provide support that helps speech along.
A ‘programme’ of MIT has been found helpful in many cases. It’s usually provided in stages and levels, getting progressively harder as the individual gradually speaks more words and become less and less dependent on the singing. The ‘singing’ itself should be the kind of singing that opera singers do when just singing a line of dialogue. This is called ‘speech song’. At the beginning of the programme it uses just 2 or 3 notes for a word or short phrase like ‘good morning’. For more details a Google search will throw up articles on MIT that could be useful.
The Alzheimer Association runs ‘singing for the brain’ sessions. Someone with aphasia may be reluctant to join an Alzheimer’s group or may need some reassurance.
Many aphasia therapists will use MIT in their work, though others won’t.