The "Ravel issue" and possible implications

Dementia (London). 2018 May;17(4):401-404. doi: 10.1177/1471301216642066. Epub 2016 Apr 7.


Current research has noted that auditory stimuli via rhythmic cues can enhance speech in patients with basal ganglia lesions. The contribution of basal ganglia function in music perception and performance is a matter of discussion. The French composer Maurice Ravel suffered from a progressive degenerative cerebral disease of uncertain etiology, probably primary progressive aphasia. Based on the case of the famous composer, we present the hypothesis that the fact he adopted different uses of timbre could be attributed to the altered basal ganglia function during the disease evolution. Our assumption would like to add a point of view to the current diagnostic debate.

Keywords: Maurice Ravel; basal ganglia; corticobasal degeneration; primary progressive aphasia; rhythm.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / history*
  • Aphasia, Primary Progressive / physiopathology*
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / physiopathology
  • Famous Persons*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music / history*
  • Music / psychology