Franz Joseph Gall and music: The faculty and the bump
SourceProgress in Brain Research, 216, (2015), pp. 3-32
Article / Letter to editor
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Progress in Brain Research
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
The traditional story maintains that Franz Joseph Gall's (1758-1828) scientific program began with his observations of schoolmates with bulging eyes and good verbal memories. But his search to understand human nature, in particular individual differences in capacities, passions, and tendencies, can also be traced to other important observations, one being of a young girl with an exceptional talent for music. Rejecting contemporary notions of cognition, Gall concluded that behavior results from the interaction of a limited set of basic faculties, each with its own processes for perception and memory, each with its own territory in both cerebral or cerebellar cortices. Gall identified 27 faculties, one being the sense of tone relations or music. The description of the latter is identical in both his Anatomie et Physiologie and Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau et sur Celles de Chacune de ses Parties, where he provided positive and negative evidences and discussed findings from humans and lower animals, for the faculty. The localization of the cortical faculty for talented musicians, he explained, is demonstrated by a "bump" on each side of the skull just above the angle of the eye; hence, the lower forehead of musicians is broader or squarer than in other individuals. Additionally, differences between singing and nonsinging birds also correlate with cranial features. Gall even brought age, racial, and national differences into the picture. What he wrote about music reveals much about his science and creative thinking.
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