Hi! The following the a book review essay. Please help me paraphrase the sentences. Thank you!
The book contains very clear and well-informed explanations of a range of musical phenomena, their underlying psychological processes and possible neural correlates. Levitin thinks that music, as a universal obsession, is a field that should be made accessible to everyone.
Before diving into the theoretical and empirical content of his book, Levitin describes the fundamental components of music and the roles they play in shaping the perception of song. Then he shows some researches and suggests that perception entails the activation of a set of interconnected neurons, causing them to fire in a particular pattern. He lays out a possible neural basis for the relation between music and emotions. Levitin observed that the cerebellum, typically associated with non-conscious timing and movement, appeared to take an active role in tracking the beat of a song. Moreover, the cerebellum becomes active to response to liking or finding music familiar. The cerebellum has strong connections to the amygdala, associated with memory of emotional events, and the frontal lobe, responsible for executive function.
After providing the physiological information, Levitin start focusing on the mental processes. Memory, then, may be the mental process of recruiting and firing these same neural groups to create a reproduction of the previously perceived object. With memory, our brains formulate schemas, the patterns, organization and rules of how music goes together. This occurs non-consciously early in development, which suggests that we could not take away music without changing the course of history, since it’s part of our evolution.
Besides the results of his researches, Levitin also talks about his opinions on how should we study the mind. Although he looks at the brain closely, Levitin admits that he has a preference for studying the mind rather than the brain. He is more fascinated by the thoughts themselves, not the neurons that give rise to them. He agrees with functionalism that similar minds can arise from quite different brains, that brains are just the collection of wires and processing modules that instantiate thought. He wants to show that there are limits to how much we can know about thought from just studying brains. He sees cognitive neuroscience as a way to provide constraints for our theories in cognitive psychology. It helps us to distinguish whether a model has a plausible basis in the underlying anatomy.
Levitin believes that understanding the anatomy or physiology of the brain is a challenging intellectual exercise, but it is not the ultimate goal of the work. To cognitive neuroscientists, the goal is to understand thought processes, memories, emotions, and experiences, and the brain just happens to be the box that all this happens in. The point for him is not to develop a map of the brain, but to understand how it works, how the different regions coordinate their activity together, how the simple firing of neurons and shuttling around of neurotransmitters leads to thoughts, laughter, feelings of profound joy and sadness, and how all these can lead us to create lasting, meaningful works of art. So instead of knowing where the functions of the mind occur, he is more interested in how and why they happen.
What Levitin provides to readers is far from merely giving the answer to a mind-related problem. More importantly, he points at a direction of where science should go in order to solve all mind-related problems. We can see that instead of digging into the specific philosophical questions of the mind, Levitin focuses on finding the right method of studying the brain. We should make sure that the roles and concepts of the brain are understood clearly, as we are likely to comprehend the process of cognition more clearly and come up with solutions to different problems. As long as we keep those “how” and “why” questions in mind, the good experiments will be designed, and therefore solving problems.