This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Front Cover
Penguin, Aug 3, 2006 - Science - 336 pages
567 Reviews
What can music teach us about the brain? What can the brain teach us about music? And what can both teach us about ourselves?

 In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin (The World in Six Songs and The Organized Mind) explores the connection between music - its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it - and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

  • How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world
  • Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre
  • That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise
  • How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head
Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. A Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, This Is Your Brain on Music will attract readers of Oliver Sacks and David Byrne, as it is an unprecedented, eye-opening investigation into an obsession at the heart of human nature.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Quite well researched and well presented. - Goodreads
A fascinating insight into how music works on us - Goodreads
I'm on introduction and already loving it. - Goodreads
Easy to read and follow despite the detailed science. - Goodreads
Very good intro book into music and the brain. - Goodreads
Thoroughly enjoyed, even in moments of textbook prose. - Goodreads

Review: This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

User Review  - Colbie Reed - Goodreads

It was a thorough, entertaining read integrating lessons about perception, emotion, and psychology with those of music and musical theory. I learned more about music than I ever have in an actual ... Read full review

Review: This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

User Review  - Dvir Oren - Goodreads

interesting stuff but not much to it Read full review

All 6 reviews »


Foot Tapping
Music and the Mind Machine
You Know My Name Look Up the Number
After Dessert Crick was Still Four Seats Away from
what Makes a Musician?
My Favorite Things
The Music Instinct

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)

Daniel J. Levitin is Assistant Professor of Psychology at McGill University, where he holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communication and the FQRT Strategic Professor Chair in Psychology.

Bibliographic information