Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Musicophilia Tales of Music and the Brain Author:Oliver Sacks Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat.Â But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does&mdash... more »;humans are a musical species.
Oliver Sacks’s compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people—from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds—for everything but music.
Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer’s or amnesia.
Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why.« less
I find brain research to be a fascinating subject and this was a wonderful study of the effects of music on the brain. This goes into research of measuring patterns and brainwaves, technology that wasn't available a few decades ago. Some of the cases are beneficial to the individuals, such as a man who was struck by lightning and found he became obsessed with creating music. Some are detrimental to the individuals, such as finding music causes them to go into seizures. Everything from a tune that gets stuck in your head to autism and the effects of music therapy are covered. It will give you an appreciation for your own experience of music. I highly recommend!
It took me a long time to finish this, because there are times I can only take science in small doses. But it is a wonderful collection of anecdotes on the effect of music on the brain, and particularly in neurologically impaired patients. Oliver Sacks has a way with words that makes the science easy to understand. What I found particularly fascinating was the revelation that different parts of the brain are responsible for the different aspects of music, which explains how some people can have perfect pitch and musical talent, but be unable to appreciate the emotional effect of music, and vice-versa. Also extremely interesting are the examples of music therapy on patients with dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, and a host of other neurological conditions. Throughout the book, his love for music is clear, and he shows us just how powerful it can be.
nougat37 reviewed Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain on
Helpful Score: 1
This is a collection of stories and data collected by Sacks. The data is presented in a scientific manner, and then the author explains what exactly the data means for those of us who aren't so familiar with the medical field. I find that this "revised and expanded" edition would probably be more interesting, as the author actually added portions of stories and letters he received from those who wanted to share their experiences with various things involving music. Such as synaesthesia, developing deafness, and "earworms".
Fascinating case studies of people displaying exceptional musical ability--some quite suddenly after injury or disease. The book's lively writing style keeps it from becoming a science text. The development of perfect pitch in children correlated with tonal languages was especially interesting. I loaned the book to my dd's Suzuki violin teacher, who is pleased that Sacks' information confirms that early music exposure increases brain function.
A well written, mostly jargon-free book covering neurological disorders involving music. Although I didn't find any striking revelations, I found many of the author's case histories fascinating. He ties in many cases he's written about in past books too.
While this book is filled with Oliver Sacks' trademark anecdotes and is at times engaging and even poignant, I found it a bit too long and repetitive and I was glad it was over by the time I finished it. It would have been served by leaving about 15% of it on the editor's floor. An interesting wrinkle in the burgeoning neuroscience genre.