Parkinson’s disease is characterized not only by bradykinesia, rigidity, and tremor, but also by impairments of expressive and receptive linguistic prosody. The facilitating effect of music with a salient beat on patients’ gait suggests that it might have a similar effect on vocal behavior, however it is currently unknown whether singing is affected by the disease. In the present study, fifteen Parkinson patients were compared with fifteen healthy controls during the singing of familiar melodies and improvised melodic continuations. While patients’ speech could reliably be distinguished from that of healthy controls matched for age and gender, purely on the basis of aural perception, no significant differences in singing were observed, either in pitch, pitch range, pitch variability, and tempo, or in scale tone distribution, interval size or interval variability. The apparent dissociation of speech and singing in Parkinson’s disease suggests that music could be used to facilitate expressive linguistic prosody.
- parkinson's disease