A music teacher and professional musician named Dan Fabbio was asked to hum during his tumor-removal brain surgery to ensure the surgery’s success. This is because his tumor grew in the brain area responsible for music function. Fabbio’s surgery is part of a larger project, a cutting-edge research targeting brain mapping.
Dan Fabbio recounted how he was 25 years old when he found out that he had a tumor growing on his brain, and also how he took the news. However, the doctors had some good news as well, besides the bad ones. The tumor was benign but had been probably growing since childhood in the area of the brain responsible for music function.
So Fabbio was involved in a cutting edge-research currently being conducted by a team of surgeons and physicians from the University of Rochester Medical Center. This project is named the Translational Brain Mapping Program. It seeks to carefully map out the brain of each patient which “comes to URMC for surgery” as explained by Professor Bradford Mahon.
“This type of personalized brain mapping is important because, while everyone’s brain is organized in more or less the same way, there is inter-individual variability in the precise location of specific functions,” continued the professor.
So the investigators designed a series of fMRI experiments which were used to “map the music in Dan’s brain”. The team was keen on finding a way of removing the tumor without affecting their patient’s musical abilities.
By creating and completing a detailed map of Fabbio’s brain, the surgeons knew exactly both where the tumor was located and the particular place of his music function.
Music Teacher Hummed Simple Warming Exercises
The map was then used as a guide during surgery, and the extra assurance came from Fabbio himself. During the operation, he was awake and humming.
Besides the fact that the music teacher hummed during surgery, he also repeated a series of language exercises especially learned before the surgery. This helped the operating team know if they were potentially disrupting a music processing brain part.
The music teacher hummed during operation and then demonstrated the success of the surgery by starting to play the saxophone right in the operating room after the end of the procedure. Reports state he has recovered and is back to teaching music.
A research paper with the full details of the surgery and its required work is available in the journal Current Biology.
Image Source: Pixabay
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