Oliver Sacks : tales of music and the brain.

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About this work


This documentary follows up on ideas put forward in Oliver Sacks' latest book 'Musicophilia'. Sacks' research has been into how people who have extraordinary medical conditions use music to help them. Alan Yentob goes to meet some of the people who feature in Sacks' work. Matt Giordano has severe Tourette's and uses drumming to ease his ticks. Sacks also talks about his own family and how important music was to them. Archive footage is shown from the documentary 'Awakenings' and he describes how the people he worked with who had sleepy sickness were brought back to life not just when given el dopa but also when hearing music. Next we meet Derek Paravicini, a young blind man with severe autism who is also a musical savante. Yentob has an MRI scan while listening to different types of music to see how his brain activity alters. Anne Barker can't recognise any musical patterns at all, she has the musical equivalent of colour blindness, a condition called amusia. Tony Cicoria, a 42-year-old orthopaedic surgeon was struck by lightening while speaking on the phone during a storm. He died but was resusscitated and 3 weeks later developed an insatiable desire to hear, play and compose piano music - we watch his first public performance of his first symphony. Throughout the case studies Oliver Sacks intervenes and provides commentary and explanation for each case.


UK : BBC 1, 2008.

Physical description

1 DVD (50 min.) : sound, color.


Copyright note



Broadcast on 3 June, 2008



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