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Researchers from the Association for Psychological Science have found that our brains can predict the end of a song when it ends abruptly.

The brain can predict the ending of a song

Previous studies that look into a neural pattern while listening to music concluded that the brain looks back to perceive music phrases. This new study shows that the mind looks back and angicipates what is coming next. Musical phrases are sequences or patterns of sound that present a different musical thought in a melody.

According to Niels Chr. Hansen, a study co-author and a fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, the brain constantly makes predictions on the following music note disputing the assumption that music phrases feel competed to the brain when the next melody begins.

Hansen adds that little is known about how the brain determines the beginning or end of a melody. In this case, the researchers have used music to measure uncertainty, which is usually impossible to measure.

How researchers conducted the study

To reach this conclusion, the researchers gathered 38 volunteers to listen to chorale melodies by Batch. They were allowed to stop, rewind and start the music as much as they wanted. The researchers also told them they would give them tests afterward. This way, researchers determined what constituted a musical phrase for each participant by how long they dwelled on each tone.

They presented the musical phrases to 31 new volunteers and asked them to gauge if they sounded complete. Researchers found participants thought those that ended in a particular tone were complete. The volunteers seemed to spend more time on such melodies.

Haley Kragness, another study author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, said they realized that most of the participants thought of high-entropy tones as the endings of a musical phrase. The study not only shows how people gain new knowledge from music but also movements and language.

The study shows how people use statistics to know what is most likely to happen next and divide complex information into more manageable segments.

The researchers hope the study results can

help people understand how musicians trick or tease their audience and enable better communication among people.