My first two blog posts here were on Oliver Sacks’s book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. This book had such a positive impact on me, and I could not rave about it enough. Sadly, Sacks passed away a couple weeks ago from a terrible reoccurrence of cancer, but he left us with so much knowledge on the human brain.
Sacks was a neurologist, professor, and author, shedding light onto the many things the human brain can experience based on many of his patients. He wrote many books about himself and his patients, exploring the effects of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Autism, Deafness, and many other conditions of the brain.
In listening to interviews on Radiolab and Star Talk, he was obviously extremely intelligent, but knew how to speak to and captivate the common person, however lacking in medical terminology. He personally impacted my life with Musicophilia, delving into how music affects the brain.
In patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, while all other memories fade away, if they were musical earlier in life, the music would stay because that memory is located in a totally different part of the brain. Often, the only times patients in the latter stages of these diseases would only be themselves if they were engaged in music. The life and light would come back into their eyes, and their families could see them again in those moments.
Music activates so much in the brain that nothing else can reach, that it is used therapeutically for people with Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, etc. Oliver Sacks writes,“The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain…Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.” Understanding how helpful music can be reignited my passion for Music Therapy, and I owe it all to this book.
Oliver Sacks, thank you for your brain and your studies. You have helped and inspired many, and your song will continue on.
“Music is part of being human.”
“About Oliver Sacks | Oliver Sacks, M.D. | Author, Neurologist | On The Move, Hallucinations, Musicophilia, Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.” Oliver Sacks MD. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Print.