Scientists Record Music Inside a Woman’s Head

For some reason, I’ve had the BeeGees’ “Nights on Broadway” on a loop in my head for the last couple of days.  It’s one of the worst earworms I’ve had in a while.  (Sorry if I just passed it along to you.  Here’s an explanation of why that just happened.)

All of us get songs stuck in our heads and usually, it’s nothing more than an annoyance.  But for some people, this can be a debilitating neurological and psychological condition–a never-ending hallucination that makes life impossible.  Such was the case with a patient named Sylvia.

This woman is deaf, having lost her hearing more than a decade ago.  However, she also has perfect pitch so she was able to create note-for-note transcriptions of what was running through her head.  She also discovered that should could cover up this music by performing music herself.  The act of physically playing music seemed to switch off her hallucinations.

Researchers were fascinated by this.  By having her turn her internal music off and on, scientists could pinpoint from where in her brain it was coming.  This, they hope, will lead to some kind of treatment.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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