Why did that song get stuck in your head?
Plus, a dance dance evolution
“"People would be better off if they were more honest with themselves about the functions that their beliefs serve.” - Phil Tetlock.
BRAIN WAVES (the song and dance edition)
Tuned in. We have a confession to make. We’re BIG Taylor Swift fans. And big ABBA fans. And big fans of The Beatles (who isn’t?). All three artists were part of a new study on musical earworms. Songs that get stuck in your head are great at first. But after a little while, they can become annoying. Unfortunately, according to Callula Killingly and colleagues, we may have ourselves to blame. Previous research had theorized that songs with certain characteristics — such as simpler or faster songs — were more likely to get stuck in your head. This study adds another factor to the mix: it finds that when you sing along with a song, you’re actively participating in the creation of the earworm itself. The repetition cements the song in your brain. Perhaps that’s why “I Knew You Were Trouble” by T-Swift has nearly half a billion views. (Personally, we prefer the best unofficial remix of all time).
Hop to it. Why is dance a thing? Think about it. Like singing or painting, it serves no real biological purpose. Not so fast. A paper from last year looks at the evolutionary role of dance. The authors theorize that dance could have started as a way of social communication, like “I want to be your mate,” or “give me that piece of beaver meat.” And while dance has evolved in diverse ways, that main function — transmitting information to others — has remained the same across the globe. Other recent studies have focused on the relationship between dance and cognition, especially among the elderly, autistic individuals, and folks with Parkinson’s disease.
Do you ever stop to wonder if the way you see the world is how the world really is? Economist Abhijit Banerjee has spent a lifetime asking himself this question. His answer: Our worldviews often don’t reflect reality. The only way to get more accurate is to think like a scientist — even when you’re not looking through a microscope.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
March 28: When disaster strikes, we want to know: could something have been done to avoid it? Did anyone see this coming? This week, we explore the psychology of warnings. Plus, why ordinary people can sometimes do a better job of predicting the future than the so-called experts.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
March 29: When Renée’s boyfriend loses his passport at the airport, she can tell he’s about to take his anger out on her. But then, a kind man appears and defuses the situation.
March 31: Ritch's friend Holly can tell that his humor isn't landing the way he intends, so she pulls him aside.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What has a head and a tail but no body?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
You measure my life in hours and I serve you by expiring. I’m quick when I’m thin and slow when I’m fat. The wind is my enemy. What am I?
The answer: A candle
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
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