Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brain Damage

For the last few weeks I keep getting a song stuck in my head that I haven't heard since the mid-1990s. The song is "All Cried Out" by Allure, featuring the band 112 (both are R&B groups). It's an okay song [1], but I really have no idea why it's suddenly stuck in my head. So I can only conclude that the part of my brain where the memory of that song was stored has been recently damaged [2], causing that song to replay in my mind. Thing is, I can't remember anything happening recently that would cause brain damage. But then, that's good evidence that brain damage has occurred, isn't it?

The Germans call this phenomenon (getting a song stuck in your head) an Ohrwurm, which means "earworm" in English.[3] This was originally described in English as a "haunting melody".[4] Other colloquial names include aneurhythm, repetunitis, and humsickness. We usually don't mind if it's a song that we like, but all too often it's a song that we rather dislike that becomes lodged in our brains. And that is why most names for it have negative implications.


[1] You can watch the music video here, on YouTube, but caveat audiens.

[4] In other words, a "haunting melody" is a melody which haunts you or does not go away. Until I learned about earworms I mistakenly thought that that phrase meant a melody which was eerie or creepy.

1 comment:

  1. Been there, done that. Welcome to the brain damaged society. Meetings are every... uh...
    Welcome to the ... uh... ;-)