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Re: Musical abilities are among the last to be lost in cases of brain damage?

Isabelle Peretz wrote:

"When carefully tested, non-fluent aphasics produce as few words in singing
and speaking. ..... However, it is true that aphasics enjoy singing much
more than speaking."

A key concept here seems to be "enjoy". And the controversies around these
observations are very interesting, because they reflect a general difference
between the music scholar's view on music and the biologist's view on music.
Music scholars usually think that music perception is skill based, and that
in this respect it is similar to language perception. According to this
view, music processing should be equally vulnerable as language processing
in cases of brain damage, as Robert Zatorre pointed out.

From a biologist's point of view, however, much of music appreciation is
independent of skills. It is based on basic subcortical processes, which are
indeed highly "immune" (Robert Zatorre) against brain damage. These
areas, particularly in the brainstem, are the last to be affected by
anesthesia, intoxication and degenerative disorders.

Today we have data showing similar signs of appreciation of Mozart's music
in rats as in humans. These signs have been measured in autonomic neural
activity and in neurochemistry. Clearly, the rats had no language-like
skills to perceive Mozart's music. But they still could show that their
brains loved it. See this report:


(This link includes a link to background theory and a link to a sound sample
of the music that was played to the rats).


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Klassbol
web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm