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re musical hallucinations

Dear all,
For those who are interested,there is a NY Academy of Science volume devoted
to "The Biology of Music". There are a couple of papers in there that
describe musical hallucinations associated with a form of epilepsy. In it's
worst case, the person has epileptic fits initiated by hearing particular
musical sequences (not just any music). In other cases, they experience
musical hallucinations.  Also, musical hallucinations have been associated
with the hearing loss due to presbiacusis. The theory behind this is the
"disconnection" syndrome described as Charles-Bonnet, in which, if the
sensory input is disrupted, the auditory processing "discovers" it's own
patterns. [This could be an explanation of the experiences of those who
report hearing music when subjected to lengthy noise episodes?] Also,
experiments with electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe (either side,
but mostly on right) have elicited very clear musical hallucinations.
It is interesting that the more-common form of auditory hallucination
(associated with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia) is almost
exclusively that of speech rather than music, which suggests that speech and
music processing in the brain are quite separate (A theme discussed at
length in the NYAS book). We have done studies with these patients which
suggest that the interhemispheric pathways are disrupted.
Colette McKay

Dr. Colette M McKay
The Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Senior Research Fellow
The University of Melbourne, Dept. of Otolaryngology
384-388 Albert St., East Melbourne 3002, Australia
phone +613  9667 7506   fax  +613 9667 7518