The Woman Who Couldn’t Hear Music and the Woman Who Couldn’t Stop

Two strange Oliver Sacks stories about the mind and music from Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

It’s not that she was deaf. She could hear normally. It’s just that music made absolutely no sense to her — to her it was “somewhere between unintelligible and excruciating,” according to renowned psychiatrist and neurologist Oliver Sacks. He had never seen anything like it before. And the fact that everyone else could made the woman feel like a freak. That is, until she learned that she had a neurological condition called amusia and was put in touch with others who share it.

And then there was a woman who kept hearing old songs that weren’t there. She heard them so clearly she went looking in vain for their source in the world around her. But that’s not where they were — something in her brain was playing them just for her. (She was better-off, at least, than the man who hallucinated terrifying Nazi marching songs he’d heard during his Jewish childhood in 1930s Germany.) 

The late Dr. Sacks was fascinated with music and the brain, and these are just two bizarre stories from one of his bestsellers, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less