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2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures 
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Post 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
Chapter 2.
A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures



Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:45 am
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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
This chapter was surprisingly short. Here we are introduced to a few people who have the sensation of hearing "familiar" music just before a seizure. When asked if they could identify the music they say feels so familiar, even the trained musician cannot come up with an actual melody to put a finger on, but all of them say that it feels like something they have heard, maybe in childhood, and can't distinguish whether or not it is coming from inside their heads or from an outside source. The trained musician laments his situation, saying that he "loves music, and have built my career around it, so it is ironic that music is also my tormentor."

I find this particular statement very telling of someone who clearly has insight into his own mind as well as his profession. I find myself in the same sort of situation, where I cherish analyzing myself and the world around me, and yet this causes me anxiety to the point where I most times cannot even interract with even people close to me in the most trivial of ways. I think so much that I lock myself inside my own head and won't even answer people's phone calls because I am afraid to face them after all of the analyzing and daydreaming I've been doing.

This is also relevant to our fiction book discussion, Don Quixote, in which the title character goes insane from reading too much about knights and chivalry. His love of these fictions is inevitably what ends him, and is an interesting subject to think about in correlation with this chapter's ideas.

This chapter also sets us up for the next chapter, in which we are introduced to cases in which music actually causes seizures.



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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
It is interesting to note that the patient stories emphasize that the aural manifestations of music do not seem to "cause" seizures but to precede them. Temporal lobe epilepsy is reasonably well understood. It has physical causes. It manifests all kinds of hallucinations including aural ones.

The long footnote in this chapter pretty much explains the phenomena described here. I find it telling that the professional musician cannot identify the "music" he "hears" before his seizures. Contrast that with the little boy who hums an identifiable song before his seizures. Perhaps the little boy's are not temporal lobe?


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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
bleachededen wrote:
The trained musician laments his situation, saying that he "loves music, and have built my career around it, so it is ironic that music is also my tormentor."

I find this particular statement very telling of someone who clearly has insight into his own mind as well as his profession. I find myself in the same sort of situation, where I cherish analyzing myself and the world around me, and yet this causes me anxiety to the point where I most times cannot even interract with even people close to me in the most trivial of ways. I think so much that I lock myself inside my own head and won't even answer people's phone calls because I am afraid to face them after all of the analyzing and daydreaming I've been doing.



Sometimes the examined life is not worth living. I have done this myself, and come to the conclusion that I am, at times, a waste of human flesh. Missed opportunities...hell ignored opportunities. Let life bump you around rather than taking the bull by the horns.

These aural preludes to a seizures remind me of an article that I read about 2 years ago on migraine headaches, which my wife suffers from. Many people exhibit color patterns before the pain. According to this article, a migraine is literally a brain storm...the neurons start firing in area somewhere in the cerebellum or brain stem (can't remember) in a storm like pattern. The storm begins to move, when it passes through the visual cortex the color patterns are experienced. The storm then moves elsewhere (again I can't remember) and the pain begins. There is no profound difference in the storm between the visual cortex and the area where the pair results other than perhaps intensity. So in a round about way, migraine sufferers get to experience a visual representation of pain. Well actually it is a visual representation of the storm. The storm is not pain per se. Pain is the experience of storm passing or settling through what ever area of the brain that results in that pain.

Here is a better explanation:

http://headacheandmigrainenews.com/what ... fic-story/


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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
Interesting post Veneer. I have read quite a bit about migraines, being a suffer myself. They seem to be somewhat related to seizures. In the same way that some seizures have a warning that one is coming (a taste, music...), migraines also have them. It is interesting to me that what we experience as "real" is coming out of our brains. It is very hard to contradict what our brains are telling us is real even when we can logically say that it doesn't make sense. Let me explained better with an example. A specific type of brain injury interferes with a person's ability to connect the feelings for an object (including a person) and the visual image of that object. A man suffered an injury incurring this type of damage. When he saw his mother he thought she was an imposter because he did not have the feeling for her linked to the image of her anymore. When he heard her on the phone he did not have this problem -- it was mom. I find this chapter intriguing because it is getting at this very problem -- how can we tell if our brain is not telling us the truth! Or how do we know what we know.


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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
"how can we tell if our brain is not telling us the truth! Or how do we know what we know."

Epistemology, where philosophy intersects with cognitive science and psychology gets squeezed out. James Crick, of Watson and Crick, DNA research fame, was deep into cognitive science in his last years, trying to answer that very question. So far, lots of questions but few if any answers from Sack's anecdotes.


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Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:14 pm
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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
GaryG48 wrote:
"how can we tell if our brain is not telling us the truth! Or how do we know what we know."

Epistemology, where philosophy intersects with cognitive science and psychology gets squeezed out. James Crick, of Watson and Crick, DNA research fame, was deep into cognitive science in his last years, trying to answer that very question. So far, lots of questions but few if any answers from Sack's anecdotes.


A very interesting and thought provoking book is On Being Certain, by neurologist Robert Burton. The book is full of example of why we can't completely trust that our brains are presenting an accurate picture of reality and how we know what we think we know.

Here is a YouTube link to a talk Burton gave at Google.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL12c4d0ro4


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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
Saffron wrote:

A very interesting and thought provoking book is On Being Certain, by neurologist Robert Burton. The book is full of example of why we can't completely trust that our brains are presenting an accurate picture of reality and how we know what we think we know.



It was an interesting lecture, thank you Saffron. I also did not know about googletalk so thank you again. Looks like Plato was right, all we perceive are but shadows on the wall of the cave.

I'm going to get Burton's book.


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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
Saffron
I started to watch the video, but at 55 minutes I must defer to later, but thank you for bringing up this book. I placed it on my wish list at Amazon. This is a subject that I have been interested for quite some time, how do we know what is real. Our senses lie to us so how can we trust our brains? One of the things that I have contemplated is high speed driving. Every now again I run into some reference about someone with a fast car trying it out on public roads. At 60 mph one is traveling 88 feet per second, at 120 mph that is 176 feet per second, or a little better than 1/2 the length of a football field. I am not sure what the transit time is from the retina to the visual cortex, and the time required to process an image but there is a time associated with this and it is one of the reasons that movies or television work. You simply change the frame rate faster than a person can process the image and voila at set of still pictures becomes a fluid motion. You can also get a flavor for this by looking at the digital clock in your microwave (at least the older ones) in the dark. If you sweep your eyes rapidly across the display, you will for moment see a track of numbers interrupted by dark spots. The display flashes faster than what we can see, but rapidly moving your eyes will leave a track of images when the display flashes on and dark intervals when it is off on your retina. The point of this all being that we can't possibly see everything. To simplify this, which is probably an over simplification, if we consider the frame rates of TV or computers at roughly 30 frames per second, we could use this as some basis of vision rate. So when driving at 120, one is moving almost 6 feet in one 30th of second. When you think about the amount of image processing that has to go on, it gets kind of scary. Nascar ( I am not a fan) is truly amazing.

I have read different places that eye witness accounts are highly unreliable. It seems that our brains take an event, try to make sense out of it in a story form, and then remembers the story rather than the actual event.

Again thanks for the tip on this book, I am looking forward to reading it.


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“Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” W. B. Yeats

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell

"In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time." Edward P. Tryon


Last edited by Veneer on Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:52 am
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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
Veneer,

Much of what you wrote is included in the lecture. For example, we are told the time necessary for an image to travel from the retina to the visual cortex is 90 milliseconds. Then we must add processing and reaction time.

I think you will like the lecture. It is about 44 mins. the rest is Q&A which is more about young Google employees trying to impress their bosses with their erudition than anything else and can be skipped without losing much.


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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
I have to check it out tonight. The Easter bus schedule is about to begin. Thanks for the tip.


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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell

"In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time." Edward P. Tryon


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Post How do we know, what we know!
Saffron, extreme thank yous are in order for the video. This is something that I have wrestled with for a long time. Just how accurate is anything we know? I work in engineering and people's lives depend on things that I know. When you start thinking about what you really know sometimes the awesome responsibility becomes frightening. (Fear not! Fortunately the things I work on are not in the public sphere but limited to test facilities at work--you need not worry that the brakes in your car were designed by Veneer!)

I keep one event always in my mind. It was the collapse of elevated walkways in a convention center in Kansas City sometime in the 1980s The original design called for a double deck walkway supported by a series of 40 foot long rods. The series of rods were sufficient to support both walkways. When it came time to actually build the center, 40 foot long rods were not available. So it was swapped with two readily available 20 foot rods. So what happened was that instead of one long rod supporting both walkways, they had two short rods supporting each walkway. (I am only looking at one rod, remember these were series of rods supporting the walkways.) At first blush this seems reasonable. But the walkway collapsed, why? In the original design one rod supported both walkways. Looking at the original design, the lower walkway was attached to the rod at the bottom, the upper walkway was attached to middle of the rod, and the rod was supported by a reinforced beam at the ceiling. On the modified design, the lower walkway was attached to the bottom of the lower rod, and the upper walkway was attached to the bottom of the upper rod. Fine, no problem yet. But here is the crux, the upper end of the lower rod was attached to the upper walkway. So now the lower attachment for the upper walkway was no longer supporting just the load of upper walkway, it was supporting the load of both walkways! The rods were changed but the beams were not. The beam in the upper walkway was subjected to twice the load that it was designed for and it failed resulting in the death and injury of many people. Had the upper walkway used a reinforced beam like the ceiling, there would have been no problem and a lot of people would still be alive today. This frightens the hell out of me because I could see myself easily making that same mistake. This kind of stuff haunts me! There is a account of of this tragedy here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyatt_Rege ... y_collapse

Going back to my speeding car, 90 millisecond transit time for the signal to travel from the retina to the brain--before processing. Turns out my 6 foot simplification is actually 15.8 feet. Something to think about for us lead footed Americans. At 90 miles an hour (not a totally uncommon speed on our freeways at times) your vehicle is moving 132 feet per second. The brake light comes on in the car in front of you. You have traveled 11.8 feet in the 90 milliseconds from the time that retina registered red until the message arrives in the visual cortex. You don't even know about the brake light and have moved 12 feet. Now your brain has to say "hmmmm red brake lights" and command old righty off the gas and on to the brake pedal. There is something to be said for speed limits.

His description of the baseball pitch was interesting to me. I was in Little League in 1960. Baseball was very important back then. Little League coaches, bless their hearts, like all coaches want to win, but they are stuck often with some pretty crappy players like me. Well the solution was to make sure the crappy kids never got a bat in their hand, so they rotated all the turds like me into right field until it was time to bat then they would rotate another kid in. Fortunately the parents really didn't show up at too many games so they could run the games pretty much with impunity. The end result of this was that in the entire season I got a bat in my hands once--the night my parents showed up at the game. I would have been just as happy to rotate out, but oh no my parents were there. Parents want to see their kid play. So put the poor bastard in the game to make his humiliation total and complete. The kid pitching was three years older than me, and one of the best pitchers in the league. I stand at the plate. The kid winds up, I see his arm moving, I see it stop, I hear a whooooOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHH THWACK! "Strike one!" What the hell happened? There was no ball! The kid didn't throw the ball--I saw no ball. I am stunned! While standing in a state of shock, I see the windup...whooooOOOOOSSSHHH THWACK! "Strike two!" No ball, there was no damned ball! I can't believe what is happening, and it is happening really quick. I see the windup.... wooo...I blindly swing with tears stinging my eyes...oooooOOOOSHHHHH THWACK! "Strike three, you're out!" I stood there in disbelief at plate. I wasn't stupid enough to believe that I was going to actually hit the ball, but I had an belief that I would at least see it. The next kid grabbed the bat out of my hand and mumbled something about move it loser. As an adult I think ahhh what the hell, but as an 11 year old kid I was devastated. Never cared for sports since.


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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell

"In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time." Edward P. Tryon


Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:11 am
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Post Re: 2. A Strangely Familiar Feeling: Musical Seizures
Nice post, Veneer. Reading it put a smile on my face!


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Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:20 am
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