14. November 2011 · Comments Off on Fascinating! · Categories: Read Online

I always talk to my students about how I’ve read that music is so good for the brain. Now I read this:

A professional cellist who lost nearly all of his memory after a virus destroyed parts of his brain has astonished doctors with his remarkable recall of music.

The 71-year-old, known only as PM, had played with a major German orchestra before contracting the infection that devastated his brain’s memory centres in 2005.

The illness left the musician with such profound amnesia he could remember almost nothing of his past and was unable to plan for the future. The only people he recognised were his brother and a care worker.

“He can hardly remember a thing. He has no memory of any personal or professional events,” Carsten Finke, a neurologist at Charité university hospital in Berlin, told the Guardian. “He is living in the moment, more or less. He has lost his whole life.”

Doctors made their discovery when they tested PM’s ability to recall musical information and found he could identify the scales, rhythms and intervals of pieces they played him. The man went on to score normally on a standard test for musical memory.

But it was later tests that surprised doctors most, when the cellist showed he could learn new pieces of music, even though he failed to remember simple information, such as the layout of his flat, who his doctors were and what medicines he should take.


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