A music teacher from the US had to undergo surgery and have a brain tumor removed. However, during the operation, something quite unusual happened. While doctors performed the delicate process, they had the patient play the saxophone. This was a part of several cognitive tests he had to undergo, to see if the doctors had affected any area responsible with the processing of music.
Brain surgeries might disrupt certain abilities of the patients
Dan Fabbio was teaching music in New York, and studying to get his Master’s degree in music education. When he was 25, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, the tumor was benign, but it was still placed in a sensitive area which deals with how he perceived music.
Fabbio was not completely unconscious during the surgery. Therefore, as doctors were removing the tumor, they had him play the saxophone. This was part of a series of tests performed by the doctors, where Fabbio had to listen to short melodies and then play them. As he was doing this, they performed functional MRI scans in his brain.
Doctors had the patient play the saxophone to know which areas of the brain control music processing
Even when brain tumors are not cancerous, their removal can still have serious consequences if they are placed in sensitive areas. Before undergoing surgery, Fabbio showed concern about losing his ability to play music, as this was one of the most important parts of his life. Therefore, doctors decided to perform these tests, and see what areas in the patient’s brain are related to music processing.
As he was playing, those musical areas showed changes in the oxygen levels they required, and this was visible on the MRI scan. This is how doctors managed to get a detailed map of Fabbio’s brain, and knew what areas they should avoid so they won’t affect his musical ability. Since then, Fabbio underwent a complete recovery, and could return to teaching music.
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