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LIVE from the NYPL: Oliver Sacks: Hallucinations

September 21, 2009

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The Robert B. Silvers Lecture.
Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks examines how the normal brain, if deprived of perceptual input, may generate illusory sensations as with the visual hallucinations of the blind, or the musical hallucinations of the deaf.

This event is also sponsored by Sutherland.

About Oliver Sacks

The New York Times has referred to Oliver Sacks as the poet laureate of medicine, and he is best known for his compassionate explorations of the far borderlands of neurological experience. In books of "clinical tales" such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, he describes patients struggling to live with conditions ranging from Tourette's syndrome to autism, parkinsonism, musical hallucination, epilepsy, phantom limb syndrome, retardation,and Alzheimer's disease. In 1966, Dr. Oliver Sacks began working at a chronic care hospital in the Bronx, where he encountered an extraordinary group of patients, many of whom had spent decades in strange, frozen states, like human statues, unable to initiate movement. He recognized these patients as survivors of the great pandemic of encephalitis lethargica, the "sleepy sickness" that had swept the world from 1916 to 1927, and treated them with a then-experimental drug, L-dopa, which enabled them to come back to life. They became the subjects of his book Awakenings, which later inspired a play by Harold Pinter A Kind of Alaska and the Oscar-nominated feature film, Awakening with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. Oliver Sacks is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and also the university's first Columbia University Artist.

About The Robert B. Silvers Lecture

The Robert B. Silvers Lecture is an annual series created by Max Palevsky in recognition of the work of Robert B. Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, of which he was a founder in 1963. The series features contemporary people whose fields correspond to the broad range of Mr. Silver's interests in literature, the arts, politics, economics, history, and the sciences.