Music Overcomes Amnesia

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Excerpt from Clive’s journal (via BBC)

Clive and Deborah are a married couple featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia. Clive has a form of amnesia that causes him to have serious trouble holding onto memories. While in the hospital, he believed that he woke up for the first time about every 30 seconds despite already being awake.

But, as a trained musician, songs have stuck with him and evade the destruction of his amnesia.

The other miracle was the discovery made early on, while Clive was still in the hospital, desperately confused and disoriented: that his musical powers were totally intact.

“I picked up some music,” Deborah wrote, “and held it open for Clive to see. I started to sing one of the lines. He picked up the tenor lines and sang with me. A bar or so in, I suddenly realized what was happening. He could still read music. He was singing.

His talk might be a jumble no one could understand but his brain was capable of music.”

p. 204 from Musicophilia

Music seems to bypass the frequent roadblocks of the brain and the loss of memory. Music’s power is baffling.

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