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7 Books on Music, Emotion &Brain

7 Books on Music, Emotion &Brain
by Maria Popova What Freud has to do with auditory cheesecake, European opera and world peace. Last year, Horizon’s fascinating documentary on how music works was one of our most-liked pickings of 2010. But perhaps even more fascinating than the subject of how music works is the question of why it makes us feel the way it does. Today, we try to answer it with seven essential books that bridge music, emotion and cognition, peeling away at that tender intersection of where your brain ends and your soul begins. We love the work of neuroscientist and prolific author Oliver Sacks, whose latest book, The Mind’s Eye, was one of our favorite brain books last year. Why music makes us feel the way it does is on par with questions about the nature of divinity or the origin of love. Patel also offers this beautiful definition of what music is: Sound organized in time, intended for, or perceived as, aesthetic experience. Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr

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The Pen Is Mightier Than The Phone: A Case For Writing Things Out There’s all kinds of advice across the web about when to use which app for each small thing that needs doing. But the advocates for using paper to complete certain tasks are not so loud (you can’t hear them typing, among other things). Yet a Forrester Research survey of business professionals found that 87 percent of them supplement gadgets with paper productivity, and 47 percent thought their personal and company efficiency would improve with better note-taking. The survey might have been biased, since it was sponsored by the makers of the Livescribe smart pen, but you can’t help but think it touches on a need to refamiliarize ourselves with ink and thinly sliced wood pulp. Paper, but more specifically handwriting, will likely always be with us, and that’s a good thing. It’s a smoother path from your brain to the printed word, it saves you from task-switching overload, and it possibly makes the best to-do list.

Sam Harris on the Paradox of Meditation and How to Stretch Our Capacity for Everyday Self-Transcendence Montaigne believed that meditation is the finest exercise of one’s mind and David Lynch uses it as an anchor of his creative integrity. Over the centuries, the ancient Eastern practice has had a variety of exports and permutations in the West, but at no point has it been more vital to our sanity and psychoemotional survival than amidst our current epidemic of hurrying and cult of productivity. It is remarkable how much we, as a culture, invest in the fitness of the body and how little, by and large, in the fitness of the spirit and the psyche — which is essentially what meditation provides. In Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (public library), neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris argued that cultivating the art of presence is our greatest gateway to true happiness.

43 Books About War Every Man Should Read Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Ryan Holiday. War is unquestionably mankind at his worst. Yet, paradoxically, it is in war that men — individual men — often show the very best of themselves. War is often the result of greed, stupidity, or depravity. But in it, men are often brave, loyal, and selfless. I am not a soldier. New Year's Resolution Reading List: 9 Essential Books on Reading and Writing by Maria Popova Dancing with the absurdity of life, or what symbolism has to do with the osmosis of trash and treasure. Hardly anything does one’s mental, spiritual, and creative health more good than resolving to read more and write better.

21 Awesome Quotes on Intuition Thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for finding most of these quotes. “The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock“Systems die; instincts remain.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes“It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.” – Henri Poincare“Intuition becomes increasingly valuable in the new information society precisely because there is so much data.” – John Naisbitt“A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.” – Frank Capra “It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. I work with it and rely on it. It’s my partner.” – Jonas Salk“All human knowledge thus begins with intuitions, proceeds thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.” - Immanuel Kant“Trust your own instinct.

Streams of Consciousness, Scientific American Blog Network The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the ninth video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in New York City. By Roni Jacobson Ovid the naturalist By Jane Alison Ovid was born on the 20th of March (two thousand and fifty-some years ago): born on the cusp of spring, as frozen streams in the woods of his Sulmo cracked and melted to runnels of water, as coral-hard buds beaded black stalks of shrubs, as tips of green nudged at clods of earth and rose, and rose, and released tumbles of blooms. The extraordinariness of living-change: this would be the life-breath of Ovid’s great Metamorphoses. In his poem are changes as real as being born, falling in love for the first time, or dying. In it, too, are changes that seem fantastical: a boy becomes a spotted newt; a girl becomes a myrrh.

Why We Love: 5 Must-Read Books on the Psychology of Love It’s often said that every song, every poem, every novel, every painting ever created is in some way “about” love. What this really means is that love is a central theme, an underlying preoccupation, in humanity’s greatest works. But what exactly is love? How does its mechanism spur such poeticism, and how does it lodge itself in our minds, hearts and souls so completely, so stubbornly, as to permeate every aspect of the human imagination? Today, we turn to 5 essential books that are “about” love in a different way — they turn an inquisitive lens towards this grand phenomenon and try to understand where it comes from, how it works, and what it means for the human condition. No superlative is an exaggeration of Alain de Botton‘s humble brilliance spanning everything from philosophy to architecture.

The role of emotion in memory Does emotion help us remember? That's not an easy question to answer, which is unsurprising when you consider the complexities of emotion. First of all, there are two, quite different, elements to this question. The first concerns the emotional content of the information you want to remember.

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