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Music and the Brain

Lessons from Brain Diseases and Some Reflections on the “Emotional” Brain

Authors

  • HEINZ GREGOR WIESER

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, Epileptology and Electroencephalography, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
      Address for correspondence: Prof. Dr. med. H.G. Wieser, Abteilung für Epileptologie & Elektroenzephalographie, Neurologische Klinik, Universitätsspital, CH-8091 Zürich, Switzerland. Voice: 0041/1 255 55 30 (or 31); fax: 0041/1 255 44 29; hgwepi@neurol.unizh,ch.
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Address for correspondence: Prof. Dr. med. H.G. Wieser, Abteilung für Epileptologie & Elektroenzephalographie, Neurologische Klinik, Universitätsspital, CH-8091 Zürich, Switzerland. Voice: 0041/1 255 55 30 (or 31); fax: 0041/1 255 44 29; hgwepi@neurol.unizh,ch.

Abstract

Abstract: Studies are reviewed from the perspective of a neurologist and epileptologist interested in “music and the brain.” At the neurocognitive level, deficits in pitch discrimination of patients with brain lesions and those during the intracarotid amobarbital test are outlined, because they show that the temporal lobe and, in particular, the right acoustic cortex are crucial. Hallucinations of music during epileptic seizures as well as the analysis of musicogenic epilepsy point to the same gross localization and lateralization. At the esthetic level, music theoretical concepts on the consonance-dissonance dichotomy and related EEG examinations are reported, which illustrate the importance of mesiolimbic temporal lobe structures for the pleasure that we might experience when listening to music. The complex interaction of many neuronal circuits and assemblies of both hemispheres in musical perception and performance is illustrated by musical analysis of a recording by an organ player who experienced a right temporal lobe seizure. This analysis revealed that the seizure-induced errors of the left hand were compensated with the right hand in a musically meaningful way.

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