The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 September 2006

It's in the pantry with the cupcakes

You or I know the words to dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of songs, but they don't just spill out of us: if we're going to recite those words, first we have to sing them, if only in the back of the mind, to get them to come out. It helps, of course, if the actual song is playing, as DragonAttack notes:

As I drove along 94 the classic rock station decided to favor me with a play of Mrs. Robinson. Woo! Do-doo-doo-doo-dooo (chicka-boo, chicka-boo). I started to sing along when the verse began and as I was singing I was thinking about how I know all the words to the song and can't remember other things. It occurred to me that maybe I could remember the words because they were set to music and it was actually the music that caused a reflex action. In this case the reflex is being able to remember the words to the song.

A minute later I turned into the world's luckiest amateur scientist because I was able to instantly prove my hypothesis. Right as the where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? line started, I entered the Lowry Hill Tunnel and lost radio reception. I immediately forgot the words to the song and stumbled along as best I could. When I popped out of the tunnel barely twenty seconds later, not only was I still stumbling on the words, I had also lost the tempo and was half a line behind.

A-ha! I thought to myself, the music is the key to remembering the lyrics. That was an exciting conclusion, but I still have to figure out why I can remember songs and not shopping lists.

Would setting the shopping list to music perhaps help?

Posted at 10:00 AM to Tongue and Groove


interesting - i have friends studying neuroscience and specifically sound triggered memory. anyways hi

Posted by: sunny at 12:24 PM on 18 September 2006

We used this for helping the kids remember th ebooks of the Bible & scripture verses. Music is just math and usually the brain can process math/patterns better than just memorizing language.

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 1:43 PM on 18 September 2006

I tried using music like that back in college. It worked so well that I'm now selling real estate. :(

Posted by: Dan at 2:55 PM on 18 September 2006