Musical Minds

NOVA | The Power of Music

Can the power of music make the brain come alive? Throughout his career Dr. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and acclaimed author, has encountered myriad patients who are struggling to cope with debilitating medical conditions, including autism and Tourette's syndrome. While their ailments vary, many have one thing in common: an appreciation for the therapeutic effects of music. NOVA follows four individuals-two of whom are Sacks's case studies-and even peers into Sacks's own brain to investigate music's strange and surprising power over the human mind. You can find additional resources below including books and movies you can get at your local library.


Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

The classic account of survivors of the encephalitic lethargica and their return to the world after decades of "sleep." Sacks narrates his efforts to help these patients in New York using the drug L-DOPA. This book was the inspiration for the 1990 film starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams as Dr. Sacks.

Case Studies in Music Therapy Edited by Kenneth E. Bruscia

Explore 42 case studies that each describe the process of music therapy from beginning to end. Authors from nine countries contribute cases on both children and adults receiving either individual or group therapy to give a wide view on the different approaches and techniques in music therapy.

Music Therapy, Sensory Integration and the Autistic Child by Dorita S. Berger

Take a look at how music therapy has become an effective way of working with people with autism. Sound itself has therapeutic benefits and can aid in suppressing certain characteristics of autism. Of particular interest is how well music and melody is suited to work with children with autism.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

In his newest book - now revised and expanded for the paperback edition - Dr. Sacks investigates the power of music to move us, to heal and to haunt us. Explore the place in the brain that music occupies and the ways it can affect a person's condition. Sacks covers a variety of cases and ailments where music has played a key role as either symptom or treatment.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

The bestselling collection of clinical tales from the far borderlands of neurological and human experience. Sacks explores numerous neurological disorders and describes the necessary therapy for the suffering individual should be designed around the person's quality of life.


Oliver Sacks: Tales of Music and the Brain

One-hour BBC One documentary on music therapy as part of Alan Yentob's "Imagine" series. Produced by Louise Lockwood and originally broadcast June 3, 2008.

The Music Never Stopped

The Music Never Stopped is an indie feature film based on the essay "The Last Hippie" from An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks. The film features music from the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Crosby, Stills and Nash. It was chosen as the gala premiere film for the Sundance Festival.


Musical Listening Tests at Delosis

Research technology and musical listening tests. Take a test like that in Musical Minds to test your musical perception ability.

Oliver Sacks M.D.

The author, physician and neurologist's official website. Learn more about his books, movies and research.