Brain Music

Why do I wake up in the morning with the snippet of a song in my head? And why does it have to be an endless loop from the Miley Cyrus song Wrecking Ball? It seems like each month I have different tune. Last month, my brain selected Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. What is weird about this is that it has nothing to do with what I have been listening to on the radio. I am certain about this since I spent the last week in Florida with my dad and didn’t turn on the radio once.

So what is this all about? Could it be:

1. A communication from the other side?
2. A subliminal message from the music industry?
3. A symptom of an empty head?
4. An earworm?

Well, an earworm is the correct answer. Sounds a bit gross, but it is the term used to explain why just a segment of a song gets stuck in peoples’ heads. Interesting to note, songs with lyrics count for most of earworm. Instrumental music causes less than 10% of the cases. Perhaps this a good reason to switch from Top 20 on 20 to the classical music station. Here’s what one of the experts says.

“What we think is going on is that the neural circuits get stuck in a repeating loop and they play this thing over and over again.”*

If the song never goes away, well that is a scary medical disorder. Most folks can simply think of another song to end the repeating loop. Of course, then that song can get stuck……

And one last semi-related fun fact–monkeys cannot pick up musical beats–only humans can.

*Quote by Daniel Levitin a psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.