This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Whether you load your iPod with Bach or Bono, music has a significant role in your lifeeven if you never realized it. Why does music evoke such powerful moods? The answers are at last be- coming clear, thanks to revolutionary neuroscience and the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. Both a cutting-edge study and a tribute to the beauty of music itself, This Is Your Brain on Music unravels a host of mysteries that affect everything from pop culture to our understanding of human nature, including: Are our musical preferences shaped in utero? Is there a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music? What do PET scans and MRIs reveal about the brains response to music? Is musical pleasure different from other kinds of pleasure?This Is Your Brain on Music explores cultures in which singing is considered an essential human function, patients who have a rare disorder that prevents them from making sense of music, and scientists studying why two people may not have the same definiti..


This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession Reviews

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Loring Wirbel

Two friends called this book the perfect companion to David Byrne's "How Music Works," and I heartily agree. Where Byrne covers issues of cultural cues and personal responses to music in a broad sense, Levitin dives deep into the neural processing that goes on in music interpretation, and the emotional cerebellar responses that come along for the ride.

As a former recording engineer that went back to school to become a cognitive neuroscientist, Levitin gives us just the right balance of persona
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This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Sam

Seemingly for musicians or composers this book is more fitting a read for scientists and doctors. Not much content is musicianship related. Middle third is a bore.

What I learned:

- There is no sound in space

(there are no molecules to vibrate)

- Virtuosity comes from hours of practice

(talent and absolute pitch play a small role)

- Learning to play an instrument after 20 is hard

(the brain is done developing)

- Percussion is a primitive musical trait

(affirming my suspician drummers are apes)

- People
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This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Emily

This was interesting, but not always the most enjoyable. If you have any basic understanding of neuroscience (I'm talking VERY basic understanding of neurons, the structure of the brain, etc.) and music (I'm talking third grade piano lessons), a lot of this books is tedious. Levitin clearly wants this book to be accessible to anyone, and while that's GREAT, it also means that a lot of groundwork needs to be laid down. Because of this, a lot of time is dedicated to defining things, which is... bo ...more

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
J

Have you ever wondered how you can listen to an orchestra and pick out the melody, or pick out the violins from the whole ensemble, or pick out the first violin from the violin section, or separate the orchestra from the car alarm outside? If you ever wondered about music and why it is so appealing to us, you'll find this book interesting.

Beginning with the basics of how musicians and scientists define music, it moves on to discuss how our brain and mind have evolved to understand music, the im
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This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Bill

Someone left this behind in the cubby of the plane seat on a flight I took in December. As I'd finished my magazines, I picked it up, and then couldn't put it down. What was most fascinating about the book was the ease at which concepts I'd struggled with years ago were made crisp, clear, and, well, obvious, as they should have been back then. Introductory concepts of music were never made as clear to me than from this. I don't think I could have found a fuller survey of the subject, tying it to ...more

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Patricia

It wasn't until I was half-way through this book that things started to get really interesting. As a musician, the first half was like retaking Music 101, but I felt this was a book I need to read, so I plowed on. I am looking for answers to the questions: "Why, when I near any musical interval, my brain automatically zips through all the tunes I know which start with that interval, and I start humming one of them?" and "Why the hell have I had '76 Trombones' on my mind for the last 6 weeks?" Is ...more

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Jessica

People often ask me about how I can be a musician and into sign language. It occurs for them like there is a dichotomy at play. I've never experienced my work in either area to be at odds with the other.

This week I'm reading the coolest book I've read in a while: This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin. He was once a musician and sound engineer, but now is a neuroscientist (another set of odd-bedfellow occupations). A Publishers Weekly review says "This is likely the only book whose jac
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This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Michael

“A” for effort and ambition and “C” for execution. He tries to be all things to all people, bouncing too much from folksy to scholarly and from self-referential to didactic perspectives. Levitin has a substantial music background, both in performance and production, and a very productive track record in cognitive neuroscience. Thus, his personal ambition to account for the neural basis of music, music listening pleasure, and musical creativity is compelling to him, and that motivation is infecti ...more