Brain damage causing acquired amusia disrupts the functional music processing system, creating a unique opportunity to investigate the critical neural architectures of musical processing in the brain. In this longitudinal fMRI study of stroke patients (N = 41) with a 6-month follow-up, we used natural vocal music (sung with lyrics) and instrumental music stimuli to uncover brain activation and functional network connectivity changes associated with acquired amusia and its recovery. In the acute stage, amusic patients exhibited decreased activation in right superior temporal areas compared to non-amusic patients during instrumental music listening. During the follow-up, the activation deficits expanded to comprise a wide-spread bilateral frontal, temporal, and parietal network. The amusics showed less activation deficits to vocal music, suggesting preserved processing of singing in the amusic brain. Compared to non-recovered amusics, recovered amusics showed increased activation to instrumental music in bilateral frontoparietal areas at 3 months and in right middle and inferior frontal areas at 6 months. Amusia recovery was also associated with increased functional connectivity in right and left frontoparietal attention networks to instrumental music. Overall, our findings reveal the dynamic nature of deficient activation and connectivity patterns in acquired amusia and highlight the role of dorsal networks in amusia recovery.
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