Tag Archives: oliver sacks

What Could be Worse? (06/08)

Well the day has come, I have finished reading Musicophilia by Dr. Oliver Sacks. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the inter-workings of the brain and its response to music. What I like most about Dr. Sacks’ writing style is that he teaching you, not talking at you. Which makes sense, as he is a professor. Perhaps I should save the book review for goodreads and get on with my post…

This word came up often towards the end of the book: Anhedonia

Now I provide you with a definition…

anhedonia |ˌanhēˈdōnēə; -hi-|
noun Psychiatry
inability to feel pleasure.

DERIVATIVES
anhedonic |-ˈdänik| adjective.

ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from French anhédonie, from Greek an- ‘without’ + hēdonē ‘pleasure.’

Perhaps if I realized that the root of the word was hedonic, I would have figured it out sooner.

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Ketchup time…(04/12-04/18)

I have been traveling lately and have fallen behind on these postings, but I have been keeping up in my journal. Here is a weeks worth in one post:

DOUBLE, DOUBLE TOIL AND TROUBLE; FIRE BURN, AND Blood BOIL? (04/12)

I learned about this Saint from a homily on Easter Sunday & it’s quite a story.

A sealed glass vial containing a dark unknown substance, allegedly the clotted blood of San Gennaro (St Januarius), is shown several times a year to a packed crowd in the Cathedral of Napoli (Naples). Whilst the container is being handled during a solemn ceremony, the solid mass suddenly liquefies before everybody’s eyes.

read more.

NIGHT BASEBALL (04/13)

In 1988, Wrigley Field was the last major league park to install lights for night games.

August 8, 1988

August 8, 1988

It wasn’t for lack of trying though, lights were to be installed for the Cubs 1942 season. But after Pearl Harbor was attacked, all of the equipment was donated to the United States Armed Forces.

(The following 3 “WORD OF THE DAY” entries were learned from Dr. Oliver Sack’s book Musicophilia)

WORD OF THE DAY (04/14)

daven |’dävən|
verb (davened, davening) [ intrans. ]
(in Judaism) recite the prescribed liturgical prayers.

ORIGIN Yiddish.

WORD OF THE DAY (04/15)

bonhomie |’bänə,mē; ‘bänə,mē|
noun
cheerful friendliness; geniality : he exuded good humor and bonhomie.

ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French, from bonhomme ‘good fellow.’

WORD OF THE DAY (04/16)

dyskinesia |diski’nē zh ə|
noun Medicine
abnormality or impairment of voluntary movement.

DERIVATIVES
dyskinetic
|-‘netik| adjective

CHICORY, DICKORY DOCK (04/17)

CHICORY

CHICORY (Cichorium intybus)

I learned all about the chicory flower from my sister (& about.com), who recently became fascinated with the flower.

It’s best known for its association with coffee.

At many points through history, coffee has become unavailable or too costly. During these times, people have often turned to roasted chicory as a substitute. Folks also used to make coffee from roasted acorns, yams and a variety of local grains.

There is no caffeine in chicory, and it produces a more ‘roasted’ flavor than coffee does. Many coffee producers offer blends with up to 30% chicory, which cuts down on the caffeine content of your cup. (It cuts down on the bitterness, too)

AQUATIC APE THEORY (04/18)

This is a theory that I was not aware of and will now share it with you…

One suggestion is that there was a good living to be made on the sea shore for any ape that left the forests to exploit it. Gradually adopting an upright stance would have been useful since it would free the hands to poke around and find food, while maybe also allowing the ape to wade into deeper water. Some suggest that a semi-aquatic past can also explain many modern human peculiarities (reduced body hair, subcutaneous fat, and our descended larynx for example).

read more theories here.

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Earworms (03/25)

No, I am not talking about the horrible scene in Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn. If you don’t know the scene I am talking about, consider yourself lucky.

I am talking about the term used to describe when you get a song stuck in your head.

Many people are set off by the theme music of a film or television show or advertisement. This is not coincidental, for such music is designed, in the terms of the music industry, to “hook” the listener, to be “catchy or “sticky” – to bore its, like an earwig, into the ear or mind; hence the term “earworms” -though one might be inclined to call them “brainworms” instead.

from Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia, p 45

Now the next time you get a song stuck in your head you can imagine it as a worm. You can thank me later.

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A Musician’s Brain (03/20)

brains1

In Part II, chapter 7 of Oliver Sacks book, Musicophilia he states that:

Anatomists today would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer, or a mathematician–but they could recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment’s hesitation.

p.100

You may be asking yourself how on earth is that possible?

Using MRI morphometry, Gottfried Schlaug at Harvard and his colleagues made careful compariaons of the sizes of various prain structures. In 1995, they published a paper showing that the corpus callosum, the commissure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, is enlarged in professional musicians and the auditory cortex has an asymetric enlargement in musicians with absolute pitch.  Schlaug et al. went on to show increased volumes in gray matter in motor, auditory, and visuospatial areas of the cortex as well as the cerebellem.

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The Clanking of Pots & Pans (02/17)

Amusia: The inability to recognize musical tones or to reproduce them. Amusia can be congenital (present at birth) or be acquired sometime later in life (as from brain damage).

It isn’t a problem of the ears – they can understand other sounds perfectly well – but when it comes to music, all tunes sound the same. While most of us are sensitive to small changes in pitch, amusic people need two notes to be very far apart before they hear them as different. It’s no surprise, then, that music, which tends to move in small steps, is literally “lost” on them.

Test yourself.

Read more.

Or just listen to the expert, Dr. Oliver Sacks…





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