Archive for March, 2010

Got a song stuck in your head?

March 16, 2010

That song you can’t get out of your head? It’s called an earworm. And scientists say some (musicians, women and the anxious) are more susceptible to them.

From today’s New York Times Science section Q and A:

How a melody becomes an earworm, however, is unclear. A 2001 survey by James J. Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati, a consumer psychologist, found that “music characterized by simplicity, repetitiveness and incongruity with listeners’ expectations is most likely to become ‘stuck.’ ”

According to Dr. Kellaris, 98% of us will experience a sticky tune. And the cure? Belt it out:

After further research, Dr. Kellaris theorized that one way to scratch what he called a “cognitive itch” is to sing the mental tune aloud.

More info, including links to studies of musical perception, is on the Times web site.

Happy Brain Awareness Week!

March 16, 2010

Be Amazing Learning’s 2010 Brain Awareness Week Newsletter is hot off the presses!

Throwing your brain a curveball

March 12, 2010

So this post isn’t really related to reading or academic performance. In fact, it’s not related to academics at all. But it is about the brain and perception, so we figure it’s OK here. And also, it’s really, really cool.

The winner of the 2009 Illusion of the Year contest looked at the physical and perceptual characteristics of a curveball:

Our illusions suggest that the perceived “break” may be caused by the transition from the central visual system to the peripheral visual system.

You have to see this animation. Seriously.

Interview with Norman Doidge, author of “The Brain that Changes Itself”

March 10, 2010

Norman Doidge, who writes interestingly and engagingly about the concept of brain plasticity in his book The Brain That Changes Itself, is featured in a Q & A with The Varsity Newspaper.

Not too much new for long time fans of Dr. Doidge’s book, but here’s the money quote that highlights why we get so excited about brain plasticity:

… the changes described in my book were never thought possible. They’re not simple mood changes or short-term attitude changes, they were changes in their brains’ processing power. That’s pretty awe-inspiring.

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