Inside Oliver Sacks's Brain (As He Listens to Music)

Chris Higgins

Neurologist Oliver Sacks prefers Bach to Beethoven -- I'm just the opposite. But enough about me, let's talk Sacks. Dr. Sacks volunteered to have his brain scanned while listening to each composer's music. What's interesting is that listening to Bach has a visible effect on his brain, which isn't present when listening to Beethoven -- more regions of the brain "light up" to demonstrate his engagement with the Bach. What's particularly remarkable is that even when Sacks doesn't consciously know which composer he's listening to, his brain still prefers Bach and activates just as it does with the known-to-be-Bach pieces (as seen on a brain scan) when listening. Watching the fascinating video below for a clip from NOVA's "Musical Minds" show, which first aired last year. After the jump, you can watch the whole NOVA episode (in six pieces, but it should auto-play through) on YouTube.

The Entire Program

You can also go here to view this "playlist" with the program in six parts. (Note: for some reason, part 5 wouldn't play for me in the US. Oh well, it's most of the program, anyway.)