Brain takes just less than 300 milliseconds to recognize familiar music

Anecdotally the ability to recall popular songs is exemplified in game shows such as 'Name That Tune', where contestants can often identify a piece of music in just a few seconds. For this study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute wanted to find out exactly how fast the brain responded to familiar music, as well as the temporal profile of processes in the brain which allow for this. The main participant group consisted of five men and five women who had each provided five songs, which were very familiar to them. For each participant researchers then chose one of the familiar songs and matched this to a tune, which was similar (in tempo, melody, harmony, vocals and instrumentation) but which was known to be unfamiliar to the participant. ...

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The brain has distinct areas for all manner of ideas, research suggests

Researchers have deciphered the abstract concepts people are thinking about - for example justice, truth and forgiveness - merely by analysing their brain scans. Until now, this type of "thought decoding" has been largely confined to concrete concepts such as apple and hammer. The new findings, however, suggest slippery ideas that are not of the physical world also inhabit distinct parts of the brain. The study is the work of psychologist Marcel Just and graduate student Robert Vargas from Carnegie Mellon University in the US. It makes intuitive sense, they say, that physical or "concrete" objects, such as hammers and apples, will be represented in the brain similarly between people. Trade tools and fruit are, by nature, unambiguous. It's a contention born out in the science of neural decoding, where patterns of activity on brain scans are used to work...

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