When someone tells you “It’s all in your head” they are absolutely correct. Every song we ever heard and every note we ever played is stored in our complex memory banks. The brain controls every single function of the human body so keeping it healthy is key to our survival. Like anything though, the human brain is susceptible to damage, disease and degenerative disorders that require the work of skilled neurologists to repair.
When it comes to major surgery we often expect that the patient should be completely sedated for the procedure. With brain surgery though, this is not always the case. Advances in brain mapping technology allow doctors to perform brain surgery while the patient is completely awake, known as Awake Craniotomy. According to Mayo Clinic, the benefit of an awake surgery for removing brain tumors is that it can minimize the risk of complications or damage to functional brain tissues, thus prolonging quality of life. Deep brain stimulation is a procedure that implants electrodes into specific affected areas of the brain primarily used to treat neurological disorders that affect movement like essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, so being awake is key to insuring the exact location for implant.
The following awake surgery patients are musicians who were asked to play an instrument while undergoing surgery. Doctors were able to either stop tremors by inserting pacemakers or remove tumors in a precise manner, while mapping active parts of their brains in real-time to ensure they weren’t damaged by the surgery. Another great example of music and science blending well together!
Brad Carter’s brain surgery was done at UCLA to treat a diagnosed benign essential tremor. Doctors implanted electrodes in his brain that help to control the tremors. Since surgery, he has returned to his acting and music career.