By Steve Silberman
A surgeon is struck by lightning and becomes obsessed with Chopin. An eminent psychoanalyst is kept awake by hallucinations of a singing rabbi. An amnesiac musicologist incapable of remembering anything that happened more a few seconds ago finds refuge from his disoriented existence by performing Bach fugues.
Music, writes neurologist Oliver Sacks in his new book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, opens a window into almost every aspect of life and brain function. For his previous case-history collections Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Sacks studied the lives of people with disorders like autism and Tourette’s syndrome, turning up startling insights about the brain’s capacity to heal and adapt. Sacks, 74, shared his thoughts about music in his Greenwich Village office. (more . . )