Book Review: Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks


"It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads."

― Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain


How much do you like music? How much of a role does music play in your life? Do you wish to be more musical? What if music is part of your being as the form of brain disease? What if music becomes part of you that cannot be turned off?

Physician and professor of neurology Oliver Sacks wrote about fascinating stories about human brain; his The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985) and The Awakenings (1973) are among the best-known books by him. In Musicophilia, Sacks tells stories on the close connection between music and brain.

In the book, a deaf lady heard music due to the brain's compensation for the lack of auditory stimulation. The music played incessantly in the brain; it could not be turned off and kept switching to different tunes and different styles.

A man heard music―vivid, live music that sounded like it was from inside the room. The next thing he knew was that he was being questioned by an emergency medical technician. It turned out he was having a seizure.

Suffering from Amusia, another woman could not perceive music at all. A simple tune sounded like noise to her. She could not listen to orchestra, because the sound seemed to be coming from all directions and would overwhelm her.

These complicated and sometimes mysterious brain problems confirmed the deep root of music in the brain. When I was reading the book, Sack's engaging writing style brought me into this strange but yet fascinating world, in which I was an observer watching the strangest phenomena vividly happening in front of my eyes. If you like music and science, this book might be a great read as it was for me.

Take a peak at the book here.
Listen to Oliver Sacks talk about his book here.

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