The effects of brain trauma on the memory skills of musicians
The localization of function in terms of music processing in the brain has fascinated researchers in many disciplines for well over one hundred years. Is there a central location for this specialized and complex process or does it involve many different areas of the brain? Some researchers have thought that the processing of language and music are analogous, but does the processing of music occur in the same way as language (Damasio and Damasio, 1977), (Zatorre, 1984)? In recent years the use of non-invasive imaging techniques such as the PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) have proven to be most accurate in the demonstration of brain activity (Vollmer-Haase et aI., 1998) and have led researchers to agree that there is not a specific anatomical centre for music in the brain (Baeck, 2002), (Peretz, 2002). This thesis will examine in what way and to what degree various types of Traumatic Brain Injury in musicians affect music memory. A pilot study was conducted with musicians who have not experienced brain trauma. These musicians were asked to complete a questionnaire and then were interviewed in order to understand the process with which they utilize their musical memory. Six brain-injured musicians were also interviewed in the same manner. When possible, medical records were solicited and reviewed as a means of ascertaining specifics regarding the trauma. Using then, a qualitative framework in a case study format, the questionnaire and the focused interviews will provide the data (London, 1982), (Psathas, 1972). This format will provide a perspective that has been neglected in many studies in Neuromusicology, that of allowing the musicians to speak for themselves. The interviews are a study of the personal reflections of the musicians who are commenting on their understanding of their own experiences of musical memory. While my interest does lie in the clinical evidence provided by researchers in the field of Neuromusicology and their insights into musical memory, there has not been any extensive work written which concerns itself with the personal experiences of musicians and their subjective interpretation of these memorization processes. The balance between the clinical evidence needs to be contrasted with the subjective elements of a person's self-perception and understanding. It is my aim in this study to explore these perceptions in the context of real life situations. It should also be noted that the observations made are a reflection of the subject's personal experiences and their subjective view of these experiences.