Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why Barry Manilow Can Get Stuck In Your Head

Ever thought of a song that annoys you -- say, the theme from Inspector Gadget, or Paul McCartney singing Yesterday, or Britney Spears singing anything -- and then realized you can't get the song out of your head? In fact, the silly tune seems to be stuck in your cranium for the rest of the day?

As things turn out, this may be an actual medical condition:

Dr. [Victor] Aziz belongs to a small circle of psychiatrists and neurologists who are investigating this condition. They suspect that the hallucinations experienced by Mr. King and others are a result of malfunctioning brain networks that normally allow us to perceive music.
They also suspect that many cases of musical hallucinations go undiagnosed.

"You just need to look for it," Dr. Aziz said. And based on his studies of the hallucinations, he suspects that in the next few decades, they will be far more common.

Musical hallucinations were invading people's minds long before they were recognized as a medical condition. "Plenty of musical composers have had musical hallucinations," Dr. Aziz said.

Dr. Aziz believes that people tend to hear songs they have heard repeatedly or that are emotionally significant to them. "There is a meaning behind these things," he said.

Uh-oh. I guess that means if you spend too much time with the kids watching Barney & Friends, you're in trouble if someone starts saying "I love you ..."

Anyway, you might want to read the whole Times article. Then try listening to some good music instead of Britney. Shania Twain, anyone?