June 16, 2021

MEMORY: That song is stuck in your head, but it’s helping you remember. “We typically think of earworms as random nuisance beyond our control, but our results show that earworms are a naturally occurring memory process that helps preserve recent experiences in long-term memory.”

I had some related thoughts on why I can remember cigarette jingles from when I was in preschool: “For the vast majority of evolutionary history, people were preliterate, and songs were the chief means of longterm information transmission. (Rhyme and meter, etc. even serve as primitive error-checking mechanisms.) So being able to remember the songs that told you where to find famine foods, etc., had definite survival value.” I think my colleague Ben Barton originally proposed something like this.

Obligatory reference: Arthur C. Clarke’s The Ultimate Melody.

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