About a week ago, after ~ spending much more than 15 minute scouring mine studio apartment for a collection of keys prior to finally detect them next to the couch, I gained into the car and also flipped ~ above the radio. Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” come on.

It’s not one ns listen come often, but for some reason I knew every word. Ns turned come the following station, and I can sing the song playing on that one, too. I then popped in a Ben folds CD and also I remembered tune after song. Which made me wonder — how plenty of songs have the right to our brains actually remember? and if I had a method to dump several of them, would I it is in to remember things that are potentially much more important, choose where i left my keys?

The short answer: no.

“Your brain has virtually an countless capacity because that memory,” said Dr. Emily Mason, who research studies memory and also cognition in ~ the college of Louisville. “It have the right to actually store around 2.5 petabytes that memory.”

A petabyte is a million gigabytes, therefore it’s quite large. To placed that in regards to digital memory, Mason said, if your brain was a smartphone on i m sorry you download TV shows, it might record 300 years of consistent TV before beginning to operation out the space. Yet your brain’s short-term, quick recall memory has an ext limitations. “You need more cues come remember things favor that, and also for something prefer your keys, where you could leave them in a different spot every day, that’s type of confusing to your brain to remember,” she said. And, in contrast, there room a couple of reasons why us remember music for this reason well. Several of it has to do with how our brains space hardwired to latch ~ above repetition and also rhyme — elements most song have. “In elementary school school, it is why things are placed to song,” Mason said. There’s likewise a little element the muscle memory. It’s kind of favor if friend play basketball, you gain to the suggest where you don’t have to coach yourself through each step of dribbling. After ~ a while, you perform it there is no thinking. When you sing follow me to a song sufficient times, muscle memory in between your mind and mouth sort of kicks in.

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But follow to Mason yes sir something about music that hits united state on an emotionally level, and also that especially aids in memory.“Your brain loves emotions,” Mason said. “That really helps friend remember things.”This could happen v songs the you associate v being happy or in love. “A track with a confident valence have the right to activate her reward cortex, and also your brain evolved to kind of overview you towards rewards,” Mason said. The same is true for songs that make you feel really sad. Our mind recognizes these an extremely human emotions and helps united state remember what motivated those.

And our brains aren’t just great at remember and reciting lyrics. Thanks to these emotional bonds, regularly when us hear music — even music from year ago — it deserve to take you earlier to a certain point in time.

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Mason claimed that’s why current research into Alzheimer’s and also dementia is taking a closer look at exactly how music can provide a gateway right into old memories.

This, she said, is one way our brains assist to keep the most necessary parts the what provides you, well, “you.”