Verely ah say untuh yuh...
May 4, 2004 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?
posted by dfowler (12 comments total)
A Big Hand for the Little dfowler!!!
(Although, with his apparent interest in classical music, he is now the MeFi Police's prime suspect for the stolen cello.)
posted by wendell at 1:06 PM on May 4, 2004

Fascinating read. This definitely makes up for that.
(On the other hand, the third link's Huckleberry Finn style spelling is a bit too much.)
posted by of strange foe at 1:39 PM on May 4, 2004

Ah, but what if both are out of control?
posted by Hypharse at 1:45 PM on May 4, 2004

It's so sad for such a thing to happen to a musician. I last heard Alex play live at a convention a few years before his condition appeared and it's very sad to lose his presence in the CSO to such a thing.

As an oboist myself, I'm even more paranoid now about losing my dexterity at a relatively young age. You try not to think about it. Though since I use razor sharp knives to make reeds every evening and still get the occasional cut, I guess I think about it a little more than most folks.

And of course, the bastard competitor in me curses the fact that yet another opening in a prestigious orchestra has occurred at a time when I'm still building my resume. It's a real bitch to have to wait for someone to retire or die in order to get the top jobs.
posted by Sangre Azul at 2:49 PM on May 4, 2004

Great news about Leon Fleischer, and quite incredible. Sangre Azul, maybe you should move to Europe, where there are dozens of orchestras of similar calibre (and prestige) to the CSO. Not to put Chicago down in any way, but the whole of the US has perhaps six or seven truly world-class orchestras, which is a perhaps a couple more than London has on its own.

Hypharse, I was sure you were going to link to this.
posted by cbrody at 3:33 PM on May 4, 2004

The fact that Leon Fleisher is getting back some functionality through the use of Botox shouldn’t be misconstrued as a ‘cure’. It's more of a topical treatment that works in his particular case because Botox blocks the release of acetylcholine which in turn stops the involuntary muscle contractions that destroy his ability to play the piano.

He says he has taken levodopa, but I’d be really interested in seeing what kind of impact combining it with MDMA (or something chemically similar) might have on people suffering from this malady. Sasha Shulgin (in discussing his creation of Methylone) thinks that MDMA may be translated into ephedrine in the brain. If an ephedrine/levodopa combination helps dystonia sufferers it would support Shulgin's theory while revealing more about the etiology of the disorder.
posted by snarfodox at 3:53 PM on May 4, 2004

This syndrome is otherwise known as the yips.
posted by raygirvan at 4:09 PM on May 4, 2004

Feels like focal dystonia, phantom limb, and the effects of a split brain (severing of the two hemispheres), might be neurologically related somehow.

I wish I were a scientist.
posted by jennanemone at 5:09 PM on May 4, 2004

Phantom limb is probably caused by underactivation of the section of the parietal lobe where the limb sensation used to be handled due to the absence of nerve firing from the limb (because it is no longer there). That underactivation may then lead to a gradual lowering of the activation threshold for neurons in that area of the brain. A very small activation in a nearby region of the brain might then cause cascading activation in the impaired region of the lobe thus causing the phantom limb phenomenon.

Split brain is, obviously, a physical inability of the two brain hemispheres to exchange information due to the fact that the corpus collosum has been severed (usually to alleviate extremely severe epilepsy).

Focal dystonia is thought to be caused by a neurochemical imbalance in the basal ganglia.
posted by snarfodox at 6:09 PM on May 4, 2004

Thanks, snarfodox. Still, I'm intrigued: Someone told me once that, in the case of the severed corpus callusum, there were noted instances of the patients' losing control of a limb, I think? That there were kind of remnant ghost movements on one side, and that sounded eerily to me like this focal dystonia thing.
posted by jennanemone at 6:39 PM on May 4, 2004

jennanemone: you're probably describing intermanual conflict, AKA “alien hand syndrome”.
posted by snarfodox at 7:56 PM on May 4, 2004

Aha! That's totally what I was describing. Wow. Yeah. I thought alien hand sounded eerily like focal dystonia. Thanks so much; I'd actually been frantically googling, trying to remember its name or details, haha.
posted by jennanemone at 11:39 PM on May 4, 2004

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