Does good singing ability bestow a protective effect on verbal cognition?

(Past project)

In a recent study, Bird et al. (2019) established that focal epilepsy patients with prior musical training had preserved verbal cognition compared to patients without music training. This provided evidence for the idea that musical training is neuroprotective against the typical cognitive impairments associated with focal epilepsy. Building on this prior work, the current project aims to assess whether being a good singer, irrespective of music training, bestows a similar neuroprotective effect on verbal cognition, in the same sample of focal epilepsy patients. Singing ability is incredibly heterogeneous in the general population, and being able to accurately sing in-tune does not always require explicit musical training. There are many proponents of the idea that singing evolved from speech, and neuroimaging evidence that overlapping brain structures and networks are involved in both singing and speech. We propose that being a good singer may therefore be equally neuroprotective for verbal cognition in both focal epilepsy and neurotypical individuals.


Enquiries: Irene Wessels (


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