The Science of a Human Obsession
September 5, 2006 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Daniel Levitin is a musical neurologist. His new book, This is Your Brain on Music, has an intriguing premise, and a very entertaining website.
posted by owhydididoit (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
haha! i know his mom.
posted by sdn at 4:45 PM on September 5, 2006

from Levithin's book: "... the brains of musicians are not architecturally different from other's as far as we know."

Our brains are different Daniel. We are different.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:35 PM on September 5, 2006

I dunno, the website is high on style but low on content. (for anyone actually interested in the subject of mind and music that is).
posted by storybored at 7:34 PM on September 5, 2006

Musician aren't different, except financially.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:35 PM on September 5, 2006

We must study the brains of narcissistic professors who write books! (So many headshots on the website.) Because they ARE different from all the non-musical people: (the non-special ones.)
posted by longsleeves at 7:36 PM on September 5, 2006

Wow, I just got (and read) this book today. It was really great. I ended up just breezing right through it so I can't remember any of the great points (late dinner and Jaws are making me dumb) but I completely recommend it!

Also, it seems like he name drops a bit, which gives it the feeling of being written by someone who is still blown away at all the neat things he gets to do. A bit amateurish, but in a not distracting, a bit endearing sort of way.
posted by Brainy at 7:39 PM on September 5, 2006

I was very disappointed in the lack of substance on his website. There is some really great research going on at McGill which will probably be ignored because Levitin is such a glamour-puss.
If you are really looking for meat and potatoes, here is
an unsexy list of online resources pertaining to music cognition
provided by Dr. David Huron of the Ohio State University. (Lots of the links don't work, but the list of articles is great.)
posted by imposster at 7:53 PM on September 5, 2006

Hmm, I saw a fair bit of research on his site. Of course, all of it is his work, and there are many other people researching this field, as imposster points out.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:07 PM on September 5, 2006

thanks for the liink, imposster...I am endlessly interested in this topic, being a musician and an English teacher and a very very lay scientist, especially interested in evolutionary aesthetics.

Even more difficult question arise when you wonder why Polynesion canoes have elaborate and beautiful designs carved into them. IMO. Reasons we do art become larger than the narrow answers apparently offered in this book. (Aside from the obvious sexual selection factors.) (I haven't read this book, yet, but I will!)

Music and dance are marginally easier to explain....especially when the language club (as in a big piece of aggressively deploved wood) is brought into the argument.
posted by kozad at 8:13 PM on September 5, 2006

owdiidi: I guess I was referring to the website for the book which aims for splash. His McGill website actually does have a lot of information including links to the work of other people including the excellent Robert Zatorre (also at McGill).

Zatorre's lab actually provides articles, audio examples, and online experiements. Caroline Palmer is also doing interesting things at McGill.
posted by imposster at 10:45 PM on September 5, 2006

Turns out his website at McGill is a part of the "The Church of Imaginos Webring" due to his involvement in producing some records for Blue Öyster Cult. Damn. His lab has funding enough for good webdesign and he hangs out with rock stars.
posted by imposster at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2006

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