The Science of Girl Talk

Jonah Lehrer explains the science behind Girl Talk:

Let’s say you’re listening to that catchy Wu-Tang song, with the chorus “And let’s start it like this, son, rollin’ with this one / And that one, pullin’ out gats for fun”. Once the acoustic snippet enters working memory, individual neurons in the prefrontal cortex will fire in response to the stimulus – they are the neural representation of the song. Here’s where things get interesting: even when the stimulus disappears – you’ve now started listening to a different song, perhaps that Boston song “Foreplay/Long Time” – those working memory cells continue to fire. They’re still holding on to the Wu-Tang clip, which is why working memory is a type of memory. This echo of activity only lasts for a few seconds, but it’s long enough so that our thoughts get blended together, as seemingly unrelated sensations overlap.

Got it?  Gregg Gillis, the genius behind Girl Talk, is profiled by GQ and interviewed by Whitney Matheson.

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