Scientists explain why some melodies are “catchy” more than others

Ученые объяснили, почему некоторые мелодии «цепляют» больше, чем другие

The nucleus accumbens – a brain region associated with receiving pleasure from listening to, is activated only when we are faced with the element of surprise in the song.In the new study, scientists from the Institute of cognitive Sciences. Max Planck determined that it makes some such catchy melodies.

The researchers analyzed 80 000 745 chords from classic pop hits that were produced from 1958 to 1991. According to scientists, when a person listens to a song or any other piece of music, he formed expectations as to what sounds or chords will sound further. Based on this understanding, the team developed a computer model to measure the “element of surprise” in the songs.

Next, the researchers removed their compositions some elements (texts and melodies), retaining only sequences of chords and rhythm. So scientists have ruled out any other Association with the popular songs, which could occur with listeners.
Then the team lost chords 79 study participants and simultaneously monitored their brain activity using MRI. Scientists have discovered that while listening to music, brain activity increased in three regions: the amygdala, hippocampus and auditory cortex. These areas help us to Express emotions, to learn, to make memories and to process the sounds.

Meanwhile, the nucleus accumbens — the brain region associated with obtaining listening pleasure — was activated only when subjects were confronted with the element of surprise. The researchers came to the conclusion that music seems particularly attractive in two cases: when we expect to hear a certain chord, but received something unexpected, or when we are not sure about which chord comes next, but we get something predictable.