Pounding a rhythm to the brain


An article about Oliver Sacks, from the current issue of Seed magazine, has just just been made available online.

Author Jonah Lehrer, who met with Sacks to research the article, provides interesting biographical details about the neurologist, including how he started out as a science writer.

In the late 1960s, Sacks carried out a clinical study in which a new drug called L-dopa was used to treat patients with encephalitis-induced Parkinsonian symptoms. The study drew heavy criticism, because the treatment had severe side effects, and the symptoms eventually returned in all of the patients. As a result, Sacks was unable to publish a follow-up report about his personal experiences with the patients he had treated.

But Sacks was determined to tell his patients’ stories, and, with inspiration from the Russian neuropsychologit Alexander Luria and encouragement from his friend W.H. Auden, he wrote Awakenings, which became a huge success, and was later made into a film starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.

Sacks’s newly-published book Musicophilia, about the neurological disorders associated with music, is also discussed in the article.



  1. #1 bwv
    October 30, 2007

    Speaking of music, one person with advanced Parkinson’s who recieved L-Dopa was the then completely debilitated composer Stefan Wolpe. The drug allowed him to complete his string quartet and compose his stellar Piece for Trumpet and Seven Instruments. He died shortly thereafter

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