David's Reviews > This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin
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's review
Nov 29, 2010

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Read in November, 2010

The author provides some fundamentals about sound qualities and characteristics, then goes into how the brain processes sounds/music and discusses some aspect of cognition. He also touches on topics such as the potential adaptive value of music in human evolution (or lack thereof). So the book was a general overview of what I guess could be called Music Cognition Science, which is a work in progress. It’s an interesting topic but I didn’t come away feeling somehow “enlightened”, only a little better informed and aware that there is still much ground to cover before there is true understanding. The best insight was the apparent connection between the music, pattern cognition, emotion, and physical motion—a sort of feedback loop between auditory cortex and the cerebellum (which contributes to coordination, precision, and timing). Any aspiring songwriter (such as my own darling daughter) would not want to miss this book or the fundamentals discussed, but it doesn’t really reveal any secret formula. Music is still a mysterious thing with a magical effect that I just can’t quite get my arms around. And that’s ok, I guess, because it still feels wildly satisfying whether or not I know why.
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