Book Review: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

By Oliver Sacks

HSL Medical Humanities/3rd Floor, ML 3830 S122 2007

Enjoying music is often a daily activity for the vast majority of the world’s population.  Many of us are just one click away from our favorite pop song or classical piano concerto, whether it’s on the car radio, mp3 player, or computer.  Music constantly surrounds us and can express the entire range of human emotions.  In his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brian, Oliver Sacks examines the fascinating positive and negative effects of music on the brain.

Sacks, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, describes many different cases throughout the book.  The reader will meet people who, after suffering from severe concussions or other brain injuries, become consumed by music and can now compose symphonies, without any previous musical training.  Others who wake up one morning and cannot turn off the music that is continuously playing in their mind.  Many of us have experienced brainworms, but for some, the songs never stop, day or night.

From synesthesia, the mixing of senses, to the profound effect music therapy can have on patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Tourette’s syndrome, and Parkinson’s, Sacks explores such a range of remarkable cases of music and the brain that one cannot help but appreciate the amazing role music plays in our lives.  The reader will never listen to music the same way again.

[Brittany Heer, Library Technician II]