During his Bond University Professorial Series lecture, Dr Bill Thompson - a Professor of Psychology at Bond - told a near full house the story of an eleven-year-old girl named Laurel Fontaine.
Laurel was playing in a park with her twin sister in 2006 when out of the blue she began to feel dizzy. She dropped to the ground soon after.
Without any obvious warning, Laurel had suffered a significant stroke. She fell into a coma that lasted 10 days.
LISTEN TO PROFESSOR BILL THOMPSON'S PROFESSORIAL SERIES LECTURE HERE.
This entirely random neurological event had permanently damaged 80% of the left side of Laurel’s brain. She’d been left with non-fluent apahasia - Laurel had lost her ability to speak. After a year of conventional speech therapy, she had only been able claw back an ability to speak one or two words at a time.
But her mother refused to give up.
Laurel was enrolled in a program of melodic intonation therapy. In short, she would attempt to sing her speech back.
After four months, the difference was profound.
Nerve fibres in Laurel’s musical brain centre grew, multiplied, and thickened. The right side of her brain gradually assumed responsibility for the function that was normally performed by her left hemisphere – the side that had been largely destroyed by the stroke.
These days Laurel speaks quite fluently.
Laurel’s story is one of many told by Professor Thompson as he shared insights into the extraordinary therapeutic power of music.
Bond University Professorial Lectures are public lectures that showcase Bond University’s newest professors who share their knowledge and expertise with the university community.
Learn more here.