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How Fast Can We Recognize A Familiar Song?

Within 100 to 300 milliseconds. That’s how fast the human brain can recognize a familiar song, according to a UCL study. In other words, your brain can recognize a song before you can finish blinking (as an average blink takes about 400 milliseconds).

Anecdotally the ability to recall popular songs is exemplified in game shows such as ‘Name That Tune’, where contestants can often identify a piece of music in just a few seconds.
For this study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute wanted to find out exactly how fast the brain responded to familiar music, as well as the temporal profile of processes in the brain which allow for this.

More about this study over at Neuroscience News.

(Image Credit: geralt/ Pixabay)


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Remember the TV show "Name That Tune"?? There are a couple classics that I can tell by the opening note or two. Music is good for the memory as it conjurs up images from your past.
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My husband and I will play that game--play just the first chord of a favorite song and then stop the music. He's super good at it--he has a music background--but I'm pretty good too! It really is amazing how fast the brain can recognize music.
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