Your Brain on Rock: Pt 3

12 Dec 2014

Three final things involving your brain and music:

  • A song gets stuck in your head is called an “earworm.”  Scientists are fascinated by them because they offer insight into how the brain forms and retrieves memories.  




Under certain conditions, the neural circuits that store a specific song get caught in a loop, usually featuring 20-30 seconds (the average length of our short-term auditory memory) of a melody over and over again.  Severe earworms may require medication—often the same medication given to OCD patients.

  • Synesthesia is a condition where the senses overlap as cognitive pathways intersect, leading to some interesting perceptions of reality.  Some people with the condition can “see” music.  Notes or certain timbres will appear to have colors.  Others may find that certain notes have “taste” or “smell.”
  • Why does it seem that rock stars always seem to attract the most beautiful partners?  Evolutionary theory says that females look for unconscious signals in potential mates.  Over hundreds of thousands of years, music has come to signal specific favorable traits:  intelligence, creativity, physical strength and sexual power.  Scientific studies suggest that the more appealing the music made by a male (regardless of physical appearance), the stronger their sexual appeal to females looking for desirable traits in a mate.  “I’m creative.  I have feelings.  I can express those feelings and I can share those feelings with you.  I can improvise.  I move with grace and confidence and style.  This proves that I am biologically fit!”  In conjunction with the neurochemical effects of music—and taking note that pleasurable music stimulates the same areas of the brain as sex—this explains a whole lot, doesn’t it?
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