Giffords still struggles to speak in sentences, but she has much less trouble singing. An important part of her therapy now involves singing songs she knew before the shooting.
The ability to speak is mainly controlled by two areas on the left side of the brain. But when we sing or listen to music, wide swaths of both sides of the brain become active. Doctors have learned putting words to melody stimulates memory and helps a damaged brain recover the ability to process language.
"And the idea is that can maybe be used as a proxy or as an alternative," said Dr. Michael Lemole, who was Giffords' neurosurgeon. "Just take away the music part and all of a sudden now you're stringing words together in a sentence.
Earlier, Tracy had mentioned about the brain's "singing center." Research has found that it is overdeveloped in professional singers. That may explain why some of us sing opera and why others can't carry a tune.