How playing an instrument benefits your brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Lesson by Anita Collins, animation by Sharon Colman Graham, narration by Addison Anderson, music by Peter Gosling.


My Lobotomy

Howard Dully was the youngest person (12) to undergo a transorbital lobotomy, performed by Dr. Walter Freeman. Dully’s book My Lobotomy documents many things: how the medical establishment could allow Freeman to do such monsterous things, what it’s like to grow up with a traumatic brain injury, and how our culture tosses people aside that it can’t “fix.”

We watched The Lobotomist last night, an American Experience biographical piece on Freeman and the context in which lobotomy was invented (pre psycho-pharmacalogical drugs like thorazine). Both Anne and I were close to tears, were close to throwing up, and I could not get the images of ice picks being inserted into the eye sockets of patients (while they were awake) out of my head.

Most patients who underwent this procedure were psychotic, and while that’s no excuse for this neurological butchery, it makes Dully’s experience all the more meaningful: he was a typical boy who, like most boys, drove his step mother crazy by being a boy. She got tired of it and called in Freeman who had a “cure” for his hyperactivity: lobotomy.

I find it impossible to understsand how anyone could compartmentalize the brutality of lobotomy, just like I find it impossible to understand how anyone could compartmentalize the brutality of torture. Human beings are capable of doing such wonderful, and such horrific things.

My Lobotomy at Amazon.