Dr. Aziz belongs to a small circle of psychiatrists and neurologists who are investigating a condition they call musical hallucinations. They suspect the hallucinations are a result of malfunctioning brain networks that normally allow us to perceive music. They also suspect that many cases of musical hallucinations go undiagnosed. […]
Musical hallucinations were invading people’s minds long before they were recognized as a medical condition. «Plenty of musical composers have had musical hallucinations,» Dr. Aziz said. Toward the end of his life, for instance, Robert Schumann wrote down the music he hallucinated; legend has it that he said he was taking dictation from Schubert’s ghost. […]
While doctors have known about musical hallucinations for over a century, they have rarely studied it systematically. That has changed in recent years. […]
Dr. Aziz believes that people tend to hear songs they have heard repeatedly or that are emotionally significant to them. «There is a meaning behind these things,» he said. […]
Dr. Griffith proposes that deafness cuts off this information stream. And in a few deaf people the music-seeking circuits go into overdrive. They hear music all the time, and not just the vague murmurs of a stuck tune. It becomes as real as any normal perception.