OLIVER SACKS REALLY WANTED TO BE A DRUMMER

The malady lingers on: riding high on the success of his 2007 book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain , neurologist and raconteur Oliver Sacks disproves the notion that you need another boring lecture like you need a hole in the head. Sacks, the author of the groundbreaking 1966 study on L-dopa treatments for sleeping sickness victims that eventually became the 1990 film Awakenings , titles this talk Music, Healing and the Brain and probably will get lots of questions during the Q&A like "Doctor, it hurts when I do this -- what should I do?" Making clinical studies far less clinical with popular, populist coverage of the field of neurological disease in The New Yorker , The New York Times and other publications without "New" or "York" in their title, Sacks deftly portrays victims of neurological annihilation as those from whom lessons about the organic way music affects the mind can be learned. Most memorable: the lightning-strike victim gave everything up but music after the bolt from the blue; epileptics who hear certain musics only during seizures; the brain-damaged who cannot communicate through any other language but song. Sacks explorations of music's psychosomatic effects are cautionary tales that really hit home: how music can do everything from inspire action despite pain, re-educate the body to move a particular way. Not to toot his own horn -- so to speak -- how his own love of music (piano) holds insight into how it can mend the mind in ways that guy in the "Voices Carry" couldn't have even imagined when he dismissed Aimee Mann's band as just a "little hobby."
Thu., April 23, 8 p.m., 2009

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