A review of


Tales of Music and the Brain

Oliver SacksKnopf • 2008

Music: Revelation or Damnation?

by David Meyer

With his usual literate empathy, Dr. Oliver Sacks details the effects of music on those with dementia, Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s and other conditions.

The best-selling Dr. Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was a British-born neurologist whom critics described as the “poet laureate of medicine.” He’s best known for his many books featuring patients with atypical neurological disorders. Here Sacks explores – with his usual compassion and lyrical insight – neurological functions and dysfunctions pertaining to music and its power to inspire, heal and pacify. Sacks makes no secret of his own eccentricities regarding music and his soulful generosity welcomes and sustains the reader.

Maladies and Therapies

Sacks posits that aliens visiting Earth would be unable to decipher the singular role of music in the human experience. Music suggests a language, but has no self-explaining iconography. It emerges entirely from itself.

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