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

af Daniel J. Levitin

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3,332572,817 (3.69)124
Om musikkens vs̆en, musikkens pv̄irkning af hjernen og musikkens rolle i menneskets liv.

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Engelsk (54)  Italiensk (1)  Alle sprog (55)
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Per primissima cosa, un plauso alla traduzione del titolo di questo libro, già pubblicato nel 2008 e ora uscito in una nuova edizione. Il titolo originale, come spiega il testo, è un riferimento alla frase "Your brain on drugs", perché la musica può fare un effetto sul cervello simile a quello delle droghe. Levitin racconta cosa (non) si sa su come il nostro cervello gestisce la musica, con uno stile a volte un po' ripetitivo ma comunque apprezzabile; la traduzione di Susanna Bourlot è scorrevole, anche se io mi sono trovato un po' a disagio con tutte le note (del redattore, non sue) che a mio parere rallentavano la lettura. Fate attenzione ad alcuni refusi, soprattutto nella parte iniziale dove Levitin fa un corso accelerato di teoria musicale: se non sapete già un po' di cosa si parla potreste essere tratti in inganno... ( )
  .mau. | Nov 3, 2020 |
Certainly, I appreciate the research and diligence that went into this work but I kept longing for a different experience. I'd find my hopes raised at the start of each chapter as certain pieces of music were referenced and then it seemed that we'ed end up back in the lab with EEG electrodes in place. Not knocking the author or the thesis, just did not hold interest and seemed to go way deep in the areas that were only of marginal interest to me and to only scratch the surface of those things and pieces that I actually am interested in. Found myself scanning by halfway. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
In this book, cognitive neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explains the mechanisms of the brain that enable us to appreciate music: what parts of the brain activate when you tap your foot to the beat, what causes songs to get stuck in your head, and why songs from your teenage years have such a strong pull. It is occasionally heavy going in two ways. The music chapters at the beginning can be a hard slog for those who are not proficient in music terminology, and the neuroscience chapters can get bogged down in that particular jargon. I think Levitin did the best he could, and he used a lot of real-world song examples to illustrate his points. That was my favourite aspect of the book, actually.

If you like neuroscience, you might want to give this a try. If you like music, you may also find this interesting. I recommend reading this while listening to music; the book picked up noticeably for me when I put Talking Heads on in the background. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 20, 2020 |
Very well-researched and planned out book. The author knows what he wants to focus on and does not get bogged down trying to provide too much detail of neuroanatomy but it is more than just a brisk overview of music and the brain. I like the topics it covered, especially about music cognition and evolution (those chapters stand out in my mind). I'm not sure when it was published, but only a few scientific concepts have aged slightly since its release and overall it is a good review of the current field of cognitive musicology research. Definitely worth a read! ( )
  craftytombombadil | Aug 4, 2020 |
You could conveniently split this book into three parts, though it perhaps wasn't written with that intent.

The initial one-third of the book is an introduction to the foundations of music (pitch, timbre, rhythm, etc), the physiology of the brain, and gestalt psychology. It'd be dry for anyone who's had even the most trivial contact with the above topics.

In the next third of the book, Levitin presents a chronological survey of current research into human memory, and sprinkles it with personal anecdotes that make the timeline memorable. This section is more technical than the other two, but for people who enjoy that this will be high point of the book. Some highlights include the debate around constructivist vs record-keeping theories of memory representation, AD Patel's SSIR hypothesis, Angela D. Friederici & Stefan Koelsch's work on chords and musical expectation, Elizabeth Loftus' experiments proving malleability of memory (fascinatingly, memory retrieval undergoes filling-in similar to perceptual completion), experiments trying to prove memory is hierarchically encoded, a brief discussion of Wittgenstein, a not-so-breif discussion of his student Roziers' groundbreaking work on categorisation in memory, the exciting new field of multiple trace memory models (briefly covering Hintzman's MINERVA model), and lots lots more. The overarching theme here is the attempt to figure out how human memory is represented internally, and whether it stores things as abstractions or as the objects themselves. All this is especially interesting for someone who reads about new schemes for hierarchal memory representations in computer algorithms being developed almost every month. This section would a rich bed of ideas for anyone interested in those things.

The final third brings up different topics that are still areas of research, or don't share the same fanfare as memory representation literature. Topics like the role of talent and IQ in music, musical predisposition in children, and current attempts at finding a genetic basis for music. The book ends with a refutation of Steven Pinker's controversial stance that "music is auditory cheesecake" (or another scientist's more provocative "music is an evolutionary parasite", as it's a by-product of the evolutionary development of brain's capacity for language and thus somehow an inferior field of research). While each discussions in this third section were interesting in their own right, they did not build up to show a cohesive "bigger picture". Much like the book.

Misc Notes
Can we define music by definition?
Wittgenstein's game argument

Roziers' three insights:
1. categories have fuzzy boundaries (is a chicken a bird, is a penguin a bird?)
2. all experiments before her had been fucked up, as usual, in artificial settings
3. some examples hold a privileged position in the category (categories are formed around a prototypical example - a specific wavelength of red will maximally activate "red" in our brain & other shades less so, even for guiena people) - customer development-like pin-point distances rather than decision boundaries

Robert Shepard's three "appearance reality problems" recast the categorisation problem as evolutionary adaptive ones
1. objects, although similar in presentation, are different
2. objects, although different in presentation, are identical (spatial invariance)
3. objects, although different in presentation, are of the same natural kind

Same brain activity EEG lights up during listening as during imagining a given tune
(same region might control perception and memory) ( )
  pod_twit | Mar 30, 2020 |
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I love science, and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awed by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and reinvigorate it.
--Robert Sapolsky, "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers", p. xii
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