Thursday, March 19, 2009

Remembering Jokes

I was just perusing the NY Times Science section online, and I came across an article by Natalie Angier.  Basically, she's investigating memory formation and the difference between long term short term memory, how memories are formed, and why we have trouble remembering that great joke we just heard.

What it comes down to, according to researchers, is pattern development.  Our brains have a hard time dealing with random information.

“The brain has a strong propensity to organize information and perception in patterns, and music plays into that inclination,” said Michael Thaut, a professor of music and neuroscience at Colorado State University. “From an acoustical perspective, music is an overstructured language, which the brain invented and which the brain loves to hear.”

A simple melody with a simple rhythm and repetition can be a tremendous mnemonic device. “It would be a virtually impossible task for young children to memorize a sequence of 26 separate letters if you just gave it to them as a string of information,” Dr. Thaut said. But when the alphabet is set to the tune of the ABC song with its four melodic phrases, preschoolers can learn it with ease.

That's why making a silly song out of something will help you remember it.  And she quoted a researcher from Colorado State!!

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