Preliminary Neurophysiological Evidence of Altered Cortical Activity and Connectivity With Neurologic Music Therapy in Parkinson's Disease

Front Neurosci. 2019 Feb 19:13:105. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00105. eCollection 2019.


Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is a novel impairment-focused behavioral intervention system whose techniques are based on the clinical neuroscience of music perception, cognition, and production. Auditory Stimulation (RAS) is one of the NMT techniques, which aims to develop and maintain a physiological rhythmic motor activity through rhythmic auditory cues. In a series of breakthrough studies beginning in the mid-nineties, we discovered that RAS durably improves gait velocity, stride length, and cadence in Parkinson's disease (PD). No study to date reports the neurophysiological evidence of auditory-motor frequency entrainment after a NMT intervention in the Parkinson's community. We hypothesized that NMT-related motor improvements in PD are due to entrainment-related coupling between auditory and motor activity resulting from an increased functional communication between the auditory and the motor cortices. Spectral analysis in the primary motor and auditory cortices during a cued finger tapping task showed a simultaneous increase in evoked power in the beta-range along with an increased functional connectivity after a course of NMT in a small sample of three older adults with PD. This case study provides preliminary evidence that NMT-based motor rehabilitation may enhance cortical activation in the auditory and motor areas in a synergic manner. With a lack of both control subjects and control conditions, this neuroimaging case-proof of concept series of visible changes suggests potential mechanisms and offers further education on the clinical applications of musical interventions for motor impairments.

Keywords: auditory-motor; entrainment; fine motor; rehabilitation; therapy.