Musical Minds

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Note: Due to rights restrictions, this program is only available for streaming on the NOVA website for one week, from July 1-7, 2009.

This one-hour program is divided into six chapters. Choose any chapter below and select QuickTime or Windows Media Player to begin viewing the video. If you experience difficulty viewing, it may be due to high demand. We regret this and suggest you try back at another time.

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Chapter 1
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Musical Savants

Meet an autistic piano player who can play back any piece he's heard for the first time note for note. A young man who finds drumming eases his Tourette's syndrome. An orthopedic surgeon who became obsessed with classical music after being struck by lightning. And, finally, the man who studies their remarkable abilities, the neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of the book Musicophilia.
running time 9:47

Chapter 2
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Extraordinary Minds

After listening to the musical wizardry of the blind and autistic Derek Paravicini, Sacks and the BBC's Alan Yentob discuss what might be happening inside his brain. Then we learn about Sacks's own fascinating background, including his famous use of the drug L-dopa to help catatonic patients wake up temporarily.
running time 8:17

Chapter 3
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Drumming Up Relief

Matt Giordano, a gifted drummer, talks with Sacks about how his pastime helps relieve the tics and other symptoms of his Tourette's syndrome. With this in mind, Sacks then muses on the various parts of the brain that are involved in music appreciation.
running time 9:56

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Different Strokes

Columbia University scientists watch functional MRI images of Sacks's brain as he listens to a piece of music, then while he only imagines he's listening to that same piece. A single curious difference appears in the images. Also, meet Anne Barker, a woman for whom music is just irritating noise.
running time 9:00

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Of Bach and a Bolt

Does Oliver Sacks's brain love Bach as much as he says he does? The Columbia researchers are at it again, and their images provide intriguing answers to that and related questions. We then meet Tony Cicoria, a previously non-musical person who began composing classical music after being hit by lightning.
running time 5:46

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A Kind of Harmony

Tony Cicoria gives the premiere performance of his "Lightning Sonata," while Matt Giordano talks about how his drumming workshop is helping other Tourette's sufferers. And what of Derek Paravicini? He continues to play in a band, showing off his astonishing musical gifts.
running time 7:31

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© | Created June 2009