Where do those songs stuck in your head come from? Everywhere.

Even something as tuneless as reading a psychology research paper can get a song stuck in your head. In my case, it was “Mistaken for Strangers” by The National, which has a quirky drumbeat that is particularly sticky. It’s like, bum BUM bumbum badabum, bum BUM bumbum badabum. And so on, you get the idea.

Ok, this particular paper is about getting songs stuck in your head, so while it may be ironic, it wasn’t completely counterintuitive that it would happen to me while reading it (the song is mentioned in the study).

But the research in question, which sought to classify the circumstances that lodge little tunes in our brains — Involuntary Musical Imagery, INMI, or just “earworms” — found that the set of contributing factors are more varied and complex than you might think. Earworms are ubiquitous, and the circumstances associated with them run the gamut from banal to mathematic to profound.

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Blogger hacked his brain's perception of time

Matt Danzico has concluded that he lived 14 hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds more than everyone else in 2011. That's about two-and-a-half minutes of extra perceived life each day. If you buy into the premise of the amateur self-experimentation blog The Time Hack, Matt Danzico intentionally subjected himself to one new experience daily, and to some extent, "hacked" his brain's perception of time. His hypothesis was based on research that suggests new experiences impact how the brain perceives the passage of time, and how well our brain records time's passage.

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Stress can fool our memories, study finds

Originally published in The Arizona Daily Star, 2000 Tate Williams

Stress muddles memories, according to a UA study that raises doubts about eyewitness testimony in criminal cases.

Results of a standard word-memory experiment suggest that stress increases the likelihood that people will remember hearing words they actually did not hear. The participants in the study tended to remember the general themes of the words they had heard but confuse the details.

"Be really careful on not depending on the details," said Lynn Nadel, head of the University of Arizona psychology department and co-author of the study with graduate student Jessica Payne.

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