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October 2021

[Aphasia without amusia in a blind organist. Verbal alexia- agraphia without musical alexia-agraphia in braille]

Author(s): van Eeckhout, P., Poncet, M., Castaigne, P.

Journal/Book: Rev Neurol (Paris). 1987; 143: 172-81.

Abstract: A 77 year old right handed male was blind since the age of 2. He presented with an infarction involving the territory of the left middle cerebral artery involving the temporal and the inferior parietal lobes. He had learned to read and write language as well as read and write music in braille, ultimately becoming a famous organist and composer. There were no motor or sensory deficits. Wernicke's aphasia with jargonaphasia, major difficulty in repetition, anomia and a significant comprehension deficit without word deafness was present; verbal alexia and agraphia in braille were also present. There was no evidence of amusia. He could execute in an exemplary fashion pieces of music for the organ in his repertory as well as improvise. All his musical capabilities: transposition, modulation, harmony, rythm, were preserved. The musical notation in braille remained intact: he could read by touch and play unfamiliar scores, he could also read and sing the musical notes, he could copy and write a score. Nine months after the stroke his aphasia remained unchanged. Nevertheless he composed pieces for the organ which were published. Such data highly suggest the independence of linguistic and musical competences, defined as the analysis and organization of sounds according to the rules of music. This independence in an extremely talented musician leads to a discussion of the role of the right hemisphere in the anatomical-functional processes at the origin of musical competence. The use of braille in which the same constellations of dots correspond either to letters of the alphabet or musical notes supports the independence between language and music.

Keyword(s): Agraphia|ET. Aphasia|ET. Aphasia, Wernicke|ET. Blindness|PP. Cerebral Infarction|CO. Dyslexia, Acquired|ET. Music|. Reading|. Sensory Aids|

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