World renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died yesterday.
Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.
If you haven’t read Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain you need to go pick up a copy. Right now. It’s amazing.
In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people. Among them: a surgeon who is struck by lightning and suddenly becomes obsessed with Chopin; people who “amusia”, to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds - for everything but music. Dr. Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people who are deeply disoriented by Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia.