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This is Your Brain on Music

I picked up this book as research for a talk I was giving to a group of Catholic college students on Music, the Emotions, and the Liturgy. I wanted to get as well rounded view on the effect of music and the emotions, and this book provided a scientific look at how the brain is effected and affected by music.

I had never read a science book before, not really my desired area of interest. For being a book by a scientist about his work it was very readable even for the ‘scientific layman’ like myself.

Because it was written by a scientist of the early 21st Century it is thoroughly materialistic in its content. There is no concept for him of the soul or its connection with the body (and being that Francis Crick is his scientific idol that is not surprising). That being the case his epistemology has the flavor of Cartesian idealism without the soul. He must be a metaphysically confused individual.

With all this being said, his conclusions need to mediated and taken with much reflection to see how they can integrated into a metaphysical realism and proper anthropology. Over a few more posts I hope to tackle some of his thoughts and ideas and hopefully allow his scientific insights bring about a clear anthropology.

I would not suggest this to a person without a good grasp of the human person because he or she could easily be led astray by the blatant but cogent materialism that Levitin proposes.

About Fr. Kyle

I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA.


  1. I liked the book for the scientific endeavors into trying to explain why humas like/love and are obsessed over music.

    Here is an old talk I used to give. I say old in that I have reformulated it many times.

    A song that might help prove a point about how music has a physiological impact “Such Great Heightens” One performed by The Postal Service in which it is fast upbeat and makes you want to move. The Other done by Iron & Wine which makes you want to sit back and relax. Same song, played differently. You can find these two versions on You Tube.

  2. Paul I remember when you gave that presentation at World Youth Day conference in New Orleans. I was very fascinated by it, and probably more into it than most of the teenagers there.

    The scientific data in the book is fascinating and really introduced me to neuroscience, a field whose knowledge was previously unknown to me.

    My sorrow in reading the book was that makes philosophical conclusions on scientific data alone.

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