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Guitar Zero

The Science of Learning to be Musical


A renowned neuroscientist with no musical talent investigates what it takes to make music

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, renowned cognitive scientist Gary Marcus decided to fulfil a lifelong dream and learn to play the guitar. He had tried many times before – failing miserably. This time, he decided to use the tools of his “trade” to see if he might suceed. On his quest he jams with twelve-year-olds and takes master classes with guitar gods. A groundbreaking exploration of the allure of music, Guitar Zero is also an empowering case for the mind’s ability to grow throughout life.

Gary Marcus studies evolution, language, and cognitive development at New York University, where he is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Child Language. The author of three books about the brain, Marcus appeared on radio and TV programmes around the globe.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (June 1, 2012)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780741000

"Both an entertaining account of the frustrations of a wannabe guitar hero and an intriguing enquiry into the science of learning… compelling."

– New Scientist

"Guitar Zero" is a refreshing alternation between the nitty-gritty details of learning rock-guitar licks and Mr. Marcus's survey of the relevant scientific literature on learning and the brain..." ""Guitar Zero" makes some delightful counterintuitive fine points..." "For those who look forward, in "retirement," to honouring the lifelong yearnings they have neglected, "Guitar Zero" is good news." - Norman Doidge

– The Wall Street Journal


– Norman Doidge - author of The Brain that Changes Itself