Melodic intonation therapy (MIT) uses melodic and rhythmic components to assist in speech recovery for patients with aphasia.

Although MIT was first described in the 1970s, it is considered a relatively new and experimental therapy. Few research studies have been performed to analyze the effectiveness of treatment with large numbers of patients. Despite this, some speech therapists use the method for children and adults with aphasia as well as for children with developmental apraxia of speech.

The effectiveness of MIT derives from its use of the musical components melody and rhythm in the production of speech. A group of researchers from the University of Texas have discovered that music stimulates several different areas in the brain, rather than just one isolated area. They also found a strong correlation between the right side of the brain that comprehends music components and the left side of the brain that comprehends language components. Because music and language structures are similar, it is suspected that by stimulating the right side of the brain, the left side will begin to make connections as well. For this reason, patients are encouraged to sing words rather than speak them in conversational tones in the early phases of MIT. Studies using positron emission tomography (PET) scans have shown Broca’s area (a region in the left frontal brain controlling speech and language comprehension) to be reactivated through repetition of sung words.

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