Mechanisms of musical rehabilitation of fine motor control after stroke


Following a stroke, many people experience partial paralysis of their limbs. The currently existing treatments aim at improving very large and rough movements only. This leaves the patients often frustrated and disabled in their everyday life, since they cannot perform daily tasks that require fine motor control. Schneider, Schoenle, Altenmueller and Muente (2007) show that piano and drum training can help the patients to recover this fine motor control.



  • To understand why this musical training is effective.
  • What is the active ingredient in this training?
  • What does this tell us about music?
  • What are the neural correlates of the improvement in fine motor control?
  • With this understanding, we hope to improve the training.
  • Finally, we are designing a laboratory experimental setting in which we simulate with healthy participants the motor learning processes that happen with stroke patients.


A few hypotheses that I think are worth testing, concerning the therapeutic benefit of music in motor rehabiliation (TBM).

  • Hypothesis A. TBM is due to the patient’s arousal of doing something new.

  • Hypothesis B. TBM is because, through music, the patient can express their emotions and hence benefit psychologically.

  • Hypothesis C. TBM is because the piano and drums provide auditory feedback to their movement, and this feedback enables the patient to improve their movements.

  • Hypothesis D. TBM is because music provides a framework within which the caregiver can make contact, in a way that other activities cannot.Hypothesis E. TBM is due to piano key press being a very good training movement. So it doesn’t have anything to do with the sound.

This project is aiming at providing targeted, controlled experiments to evaluate these hypotheses. These experiments should furthermore offer the music-based treatment to groups of patients, hoping to improve their fine motor skills and hence daily functioning.

Involved persons


  • Schneider, Schoenle, Altenmueller, and Muente. 2007. Using musical instruments to improve motor skill recovery following a stroke. Journal of Neurology. 254:1339-1346. DOI 10.1007/s00415-006-0523-2

Contact persons

    Last modified: 2015-12-09

    To top