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Music and the Mind: March 2008 Archives

Musick has Charms to Sooth

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Sleeping Dog

New classical CD aimed at calming dogs

By Amy Hollyfield ABC 7 News

Classical music can often calm our heart rate down in traffic, but can it also affect our dogs? A music teacher in Half Moon Bay has just released a new CD specifically targeting out of control canines.

The call of the wild isn't always welcomed indoors. You can't exactly tell that to Sanchez and his friends, but what if music can call the wild right out of them?

Music teacher Lisa Specter accidentally discovered that certain kinds of music she played seemed to bring the energy level down a notch in the dogs she was pet sitting, and also in her very energetic yellow lab.

"I noticed that when I played the piano and when I played certain kinds of music, that he would slow down, lie down and go to sleep within a very short period of time," said Lisa Specter, creator and composer.

She started leaving the music on when she left Sanchez home alone, and he never ate another pair of diamond earrings or destroyed parts of her piano again. Until one day when she couldn't find her CD and tried some different music.

"It was still slow and I thought 'oh this will work, it's really ok,' and I came back and pillows were torn apart and tissues from the trash were all over the place. He was not a happy dog," said Lisa Specter.

Now she realized she was on to something. So she took her discovery and her questions to psycho acoustic sound researcher Joshua Leeds. Four different CDs and 150 dogs later they zeroed in on the music that can calm our canines.

Read more about this at the KGO/ABC 7 News website:

   http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local&id=6005162

Tales of Music and the Brain

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Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

The Musical Mystery
By Colin McGinn

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
by Oliver Sacks
Knopf, 381 pp., $26.00

Music is so ubiquitous and ancient in the human species – so integral to our nature – that we must be born to respond to it: there must be a music instinct. Just as we naturally take to language, as a matter of our innate endowment, so must music have a specific genetic basis, and be part of the very structure of the human brain.

An unmusical alien would be highly perplexed by our love of music - and other terrestrial species are left cold by what so transports us. Music is absolutely normal for members of our species, but utterly quirky. Moreover, it is known that music activates almost all the human brain: the sensory centers, the prefrontal cortex that underlies rational functions, the emotional areas (cerebellum, amygdala, and nucleus accumbens), the hippocampus for memory, and the motor cortex for movement. When you listen to a piece of music your brain is abuzz with intense neural activity.

Read the complete review at the New York Review of Books website:

   http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21059

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