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Musical hallucinations

The music itself sounds in my head. Familiar?

It happens, probably, with everyone, what is there. Cling to some “girl Praskovya”, spin-spin and stop. Another thing is when the melody begins to sound continuously and is perceived as if it comes from the outside. That’s trouble.

“A song playing in your head from time to time is normal. Another thing, musical hallucinations, they become a serious problem. People can not sleep, can not think,” — says the British psychiatrist Victor Aziz (Victor Aziz), who together with his colleague Nick Warner (Nick Warner) recently again drew the attention of scientists to the psychopathological problem of “music in the brain”.

What are these hallucinations, and what it’s like to live with them — let’s explain by example.

There was a 70-year-old woman in California, let’s call her miss Maggie. One night she woke up from a small, ordinary as rain in these parts of the earthquake.Finally, the ground stopped shaking and Maggie tried to sleep. But then she heard a melody — in my head quite loud, but not deafening sounded sad old song in the spirit of “How young we were.”

When Maggie was a girl, that song was played on the piano by her father. And now the old woman sits in bed and listens, can’t sleep. The song continues,repeating itself for many hours. It is not known how, but Maggie managed to disconnect.In the morning she came to herself under the same “How young we were.”

The New York Times compared the brain of a person suffering from musical hallucinations to an iPod.

Gradually, within a few months, the repertoire was enriched,other melodies sounded. Music often began to sound when Maggie went to bed or when driving a car. In any case, the “concert” lasted for several hours. The sound was always bright, as if an orchestra was playing nearby.

Of course, the woman became tense. After a while, she found the only way to turn off the music in her head — unfortunately, it had to be played by radio wedge wedge.

At the same time, the melodies had another ominous quality in their heads: even the most beloved pieces of music, once heard “inside”,could not be perceived from ordinary sources, they were wildly annoying.

After several months of torture Maggie still decided to go with his problem to the doctor. Oddly enough, the doctor’s patient’s story did not surprise. He told the woman that she was suffering from a little-known and rare disorder — musical hallucinations — and refers to a small but significant number of people who hear music that simply does not exist.

The majority of sufferers are elderly. Songs are often to them from the deepest “archives” of memory. Some sounds Italian Opera, which in ancient times loved to listen to parents. Other rattling hymns, jazz or noise pop tunes.

Someone gets used and even gets pleasure, but such units. The bulk of the music is trying to stop: close the Windows and doors, put their cotton in the ears or sleep with a pillow on your head — doesn’t help, of course.

Meanwhile, musical hallucinations — not a new phenomenon, they invaded the minds of people of past centuries. For example, the famous composer Robert Schumann hallucinated music at the end of life and recorded this fact – told descendants that he wrote under the dictation of the Ghost of Schubert.

But these hallucinations for a long time were not recognized by doctors as an independent disorder. There have been attempts to link musical hallucinations to a range of human conditions, including old age, deafness, brain tumors, drug overdoses, and even liver transplants.

But one thing was clear: music should not be confused and confused with other hallucinations,such as voices and visions, as a person can listen to melodies without any other distortion of reality.

Robert Schumann confessed to hallucinations.

The first large-scale study of musical hallucinations was conducted in a Japanese psychiatric hospital in 1998. There it was found out that 6 out of 3 thousand 678 patients hear music in their heads. This ratio, however, does not reflect the real situation, as all patients had serious mental disorders.

So, Japanese psychiatrists and their few followers have found that our brain processes music through a unique network of neurons. First, the sounds at the entrance to the brain activate the area around the ears, called the primary auditory cortex,which begins to process sounds at their most basic level.

The auditory cortex then transmits its own signals to other areas that may recognize more complex features of the music, such as rhythm and melody.

It turned out that this network of neurons in the auditory cortex can start to work wrong, without affecting their “failure” no other areas of the brain.

Continued work in this direction Timothy Griffiths (Timothy Griffiths),a British expert on hearing disorders from the medical school of the University of Newcastle (Newcastle University Medical School). Last year, he studied six elderly patients who had musical hallucinations along with deafness.

Using positron emission tomography, the scientist discovered several areas in the brain that became more active during musical hallucinations. The result of the doctor puzzled: “I saw almost the same as that of normal people who listen to music,” admitted Griffiths.

The main difference, he said, is that musical hallucinations do not activate the primary auditory cortex, but only use parts of the brain responsible for turning simple sounds into complex music.

According to Griffiths ‘ hypothesis, music-processing areas of the brain are continuously looking for samples in signals coming from the ears. Because these areas need a melody, they amplify certain sounds that match the music and minimize extraneous noises.

When there are no sounds in the ears, parts of the brain can try to grab at least something, random impulses and signals, try to create some structure from them, digging into memories. So a few notes can suddenly turn into a familiar melody.

For most of us it can result in the production of the song that hard, but out of our head, as a constant flow of information that is included in our ears, overwhelms the music. The deaf of this stream, of course not, so they can hear the music all the time.

For example, with musical hallucinations in deaf Griffiths understood. But what about hearing people like miss Maggie? We’re going back to psychiatrist Victor Aziz. His research is the most recent and, as they say, the most ambitious of all time.

According to British doctors, at the age of 65, one in 10,000 people suffers from music in the head (although it is impossible to establish the true scale – many of their tunes are hidden). The study of Aziz and Warner is valuable because they analyzed as many as 30 cases of musical hallucination (on average, the patient was 78 years old, a third of them were deaf).

It turned out that women play music in the head more often than men. In two thirds of cases, the elderly hear religious music. But Aziz believes that “in the future people will hallucinate both popular and classical music, what they hear today all the time.”

Psychiatrists think that musical hallucinations occur when people are deprived of a sound-rich environment, lose their hearing or live in isolation, and then– almost the same explanation as that of Griffiths.

Musical hallucinations can be an explanation of how Beethoven,already deaf, wrote music.

In the absence of sounds coming through the ears, the brain produces random impulses that it interprets as sounds, then turns to memories of music for help, and the song begins.

Aziz believes that musical hallucinations are common among young people,we just do not know about it. Curiously, the doctor found one 28-year-old American who learned to live with hallucinations and even found a source of comfort in them — the music in his head reflects his emotional state.

“She plays in the background like music in a movie, — says this young man. — Sometimes this melody stops, and it makes me feel insecure, like I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, like something’s wrong.”

Musical hallucinations are only now considered a rare disorder, but soon,according to Aziz, can become commonplace, since modern man lives in a world flooded with music (have you heard about a toothbrush broadcasting music through the jaw?).

Now it sounds almost everywhere and almost everywhere — not only from players,radios, TV, but also in elevators, gyms, shopping centers, on the streets. It is not excluded that then this music in itself will play in the heads.And still well, if this will be not “girl Praskovya”

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