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Music to my ears

Thanks to OZ's Randy Adis for sharing details of the so-called speech-to-song illusion, which is examined in a new paper in the journal PLOS ONE.

Our brains have “word detectors” and “syllable detectors.” When we hear a phrase repeated the “word detectors” shut off, but the “syllable detectors” remain on, which makes the spoken words sound more like a song.

(Play the “sometimes they behave so strangely” audio that is embedded in the article.  It’s unreal. This simple phrase starts to sound like a nursery rhyme.)

Perhaps this is why repetition of certain words and phrases in a speech can make that speech more powerful. Martin Luther King’s repetition of “I Have a Dream” in that famous speech, along with his repetition of other phrases like “let freedom ring,” have certain musical qualities about them, and you get caught up not just in the words but, even more, in the feeling.

Hypnosis kind of works this way – you repeat words and phrases over and over, which allows people to get into their subconscious.