Wired for Music
A Search for Health and Joy Through the Science of Sound
“Beautifully written… a riveting account of how melodies and rhythms connect us, and help us deal with alienation and anxiety.”—Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score
In this captivating blend of science and memoir, a health journalist and former cellist explores music as a source of health, resilience, connection, and joy.
Music isn’t just background noise or a series of torturous exercises we remember from piano lessons. In the right doses, it can double as a mild antidepressant, painkiller, sleeping pill, memory aid—and enhance athletic performance while supporting healthy aging. Though music has been used as a healing strategy since ancient times, neuroscientists have only recently discovered how melody and rhythm stimulate core memory, motor, and emotion centers in the brain. But here’s the catch: We can tune into music every day and still miss out on some of its potent effects.
Adriana Barton learned the hard way. Starting at age five, she studied the cello for nearly two decades, a pursuit that left her with physical injuries and emotional scars. In Wired for Music, she sets out to discover what music is really for, combing through medical studies, discoveries by pioneering neuroscientists, and research from biology and anthropology. Traveling from state-of-the-art science labs to a remote village in Zimbabwe, her investigation gets to the heart of music’s profound effects on the human body and brain. Blending science and story, Wired for Music shows how our species’ age-old connection to melody and rhythm is wired inside us.