This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin
The Science of a Human Obsession

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Synopsis

What can music teach us about the brain? What can the brain teach us about music? And what can both teach us about ourselves?

 In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin (The World in Six Songs and The Organized Mind) explores the connection between music - its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it - and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the worldWhy we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. DreThat practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertiseHow those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our headTaking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.
 
 

About Daniel J. Levitin

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Daniel J. Levitin runs the Levitin Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, where he holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communications. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he was a record producer with gold records to his credit and professional musician. He has published extensively in scientific journals and music trade magazines such as Grammy and Billboard.
 
Published August 3, 2006 by Plume. 322 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Nature & Wildlife, Arts & Photography, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for This Is Your Brain on Music

Kirkus Reviews

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Noting that there is no single music center in the brain, he recounts how listening to music causes a number of brain regions, from the oldest and most primitive to the newest and as far apart as the frontal lobes and the cerebellum at the back of the brain, to be activated in a particular order.

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Publishers Weekly

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Think of a song that resonates deep down in your being. Now imagine sitting down with someone who was there when the song was recorded and can tell you how that series of sounds was committed to ta

May 15 2006 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

The Guardian

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This Is Your Brain On Music: Understanding a Human Obsession by Daniel J Levitin 320pp, Atlantic, £17.99 "Many people who love music," says Daniel Levitin, "profess to know nothing about it.

Sep 29 2007 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

Publishers Weekly

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Remarkably, Levitin does all this and more, interrogating the basic nature of hearing and of music making (this is likely the only book whose jacket sports blurbs from both Oliver Sacks and Stevie Wonder), without losing an affectionate appreciation for the songs he's reducing to neural impulses.

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BC Books

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Why do people seem to get stuck in their musical tastes as they grow older and cease experimenting with new music?

Jun 22 2009 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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Levitin's curiosity allows the reader to share in not just an increased understanding of music, but also a sense of wonder.

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BC Books

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A look at music from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience that never forgets music is a personal and often emotional experience.

Nov 26 2006 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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Hits the right notes as he connects unfamiliar and occasionally arcane theories with familiar pop culture references.

Dec 11 2007 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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With a background in the music industry (he's worked with Blue Öyster Cult, Chris Isaak and the Grateful Dead, and was president of new-wave label 415 Records before its buyout by Sony), Levitin starts with an aficionado's passion for music and explains the circuitous route that brought him aroun...

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BC Books

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As a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in music perception and cognition, he is credited with fundamentally changing the way scientists think about auditory memory, showing that long-term memory preserves many of the details of perceptual experience that previous theorists regarded as lost du...

Jun 23 2009 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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Levitin, a neuroscientist and former session musician, sound engineer, and record producer, says although you may not be a music expert or a musician, you’re an expert in knowing what you like.

Dec 11 2007 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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With topics including how the brain remembers and recalls music, why music can impact our moods, and why musical preferences can vary from person to person, Levitin explains the processes occurring in the brain without overwhelming the reader with overly-technical and academically-dry details.

Mar 17 2008 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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He blends experiences all of us have had, songs most of us know, and his personal history with the more straightforward details of music, science, and scientific studies to help us understand the impact of music.

Nov 26 2006 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

BC Books

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Levitin, a cognitive psychologist at McGill University, explores the brain's relationship with music in This Is Your Brain On Music and it's a catchy a little number.

Aug 09 2007 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

Pajiba

I’m a musical novice when it comes to technical knowledge (like the names of notes) and being able to create music, so those parts were helpful to me, although he does warn musicians to skip certain “instructionary” parts.

Oct 24 2011 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

Library Journal

In other words, 1) read The World in Six Songs (it’s going to bigger than his This Is Your Brain on Music), 2) listen to copious amounts of music, and 3) while reading The World in Six Songs, pick up Bangs’s Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung to get a sense of a person who fully integrated m...

Jul 30 2008 | Read Full Review of This Is Your Brain on Music: ...

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