This Is Your Brain on Music
The Science of a Human Obsession
By Daniel J. Levitin
(Dutton Adult, Hardcover, 9780525949695, 320pp.)
Publication Date: August 3, 2006
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Whether you load your iPod with Bach or Bono, music has a significant role in your life—even if you never realized it. Why does music evoke such powerful moods? The answers are at last be- coming clear, thanks to revolutionary neuroscience and the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. Both a cutting-edge study and a tribute to the beauty of music itself, This Is Your Brain on Music unravels a host of mysteries that affect everything from pop culture to our understanding of human nature, including:
• Are our musical preferences shaped in utero?
• Is there a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music?
• What do PET scans and MRIs reveal about the brain’s response to music?
• Is musical pleasure different from other kinds of pleasure?
This Is Your Brain on Music explores cultures in which singing is considered an essential human function, patients who have a rare disorder that prevents them from making sense of music, and scientists studying why two people may not have the same definition of pitch. At every turn, this provocative work unlocks deep secrets about how nature and nurture forge a uniquely human obsession.
Daniel J. Levitin runs the Levitin Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, where he holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communications. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he was a record producer with gold records to his credit and professional musician. He has published extensively in scientific journals and music trade magazines such as Grammy and Billboard.
"I loved reading that listening to music coordinates more disparate parts of the brain than most anything else—and playing music uses even more! Deepens the beautiful mystery that is music." —David Byrne, musician, artist, and founder of Talking Heads
"Every musician, at whatever level of skill, should read this book. And that means all of us." —Howie Klein, former president, Sire and Reprise/Warner Brothers Records
"Dr. Levitin is an unusually deft interpreter full of striking scientific trivia." —The New York Times