Thursday, July 15, 2010

Snowball, Music, and the Brain

Several years ago, Aniruddh D. Patel, a 44-year-old senior fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, wrote “Music, Language, and the Brain.” Oliver Sacks described this book as “a major synthesis that will be indispensable to neuroscientists.” Recently, Patel was in New York City and was interviewed. A condensed and edited version of that interview was published in the NY Times: "A Conversation With Aniruddh D. Patel - Exploring Music’s Hold on the Mind." Patel talked about "Snowball," for example, the sulfur-crested Cockatoo that can keep time to music (previously believed to be an ability found only in humans). Patel also commented about a neurologist in Boston who has stroke victims learn simple phrases by singing them (which has proved more effective than having them repeat spoken phrases, the traditional therapy). When the language part of the brain has been damaged, you can sometimes recruit the part that processes music to take over. Fascinating!

No comments: