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braini itch syndromeHave you ever thought that you might have itching in your brain? Surprisingly, it swells when it comes in your knowledge!

Who is not influenced by the outlandish act of mind where one can’t escape from a jingle or a mysterious phrase playing in one’s head? Whether or not you notice it, but 8 out of 10 people experience it at one time or another, reported by a recent survey. Understanding how one is entangled in the whirlpool of thoughts is a major uncompleted scientific challenge. The more you try to discard, the feebler you find yourself. Attempts to cut its frequency startlingly go ineffective annoying the victims. This eerie act of the brain has mystified neurologists for ages, and a heads-up on what is known and what’s not about the noggin has inspired them to unravel the secret.

Same as the very questions of life and death befuddle us, there are much of what we know about brain is yet to be defined more clearly. However,  a team of researchers at Dartmouth University tried to find out why certain snippet of songs are so sticky. The research revealed that a part of the brain known as auditory cortex, is triggered when one listens to songs. They mapped the area, which remains active during memory retrieval and is involved in processing and tracking of music.  While neurologists have not yet managed to reach a consensus on why we repeat songs, American researchers sat a relationship, robust but accessible for more logical connections, between why the brain repeat the snippet of songs and what causes it. In Germany, the earworms are thought be culprits, but they are not as one can easily think of – the parasites that crawl into ear and lay melodious eggs in the brain. But, they cause cognitive itch that is to be scratched by repeating the pieces of songs. In this way, the brain prompts us to sing the song all the way through which, in turn, can fill in the gaps in a song’s rhythm.

Besides having plagued the scientific community since antiquity, it is surprising that people cannot discard the early morning alarm tones playing in their head throughout the day easily are suffering from a medical dysfunction of brain. Although such a claim was discussed back and forth for the reasons that have been poorly understood, experts are still out to get the logic across. Many scientists call it “brain itch syndrome” which is a sort of metaphor in the medical dictionary.

This ambiguous understanding is vexing to those expecting to discover a single, universal definition. However, theorists think that the prefrontal lobe, sitting just behind our forehead is responsible for the music processing, and this area is believed to be tonality responsive, activated when the tones and frequencies of resonant sounds and music are herd. Their claims even proved right when Ptr Janata, a research assistant professor at Dartmouth’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, said, “only the rostromedial prefrontal area, a subsection of the medial prefrontal cortex, reliably tracked the fluctuations on the donut in all the subjects”.

These sticky songs, relatively simple, repetitive and containing something that we like or have acquainted before, are most often the culprits. In another words, the brain region has responded quickly to the autobiographically relevant music. Evidence so far indicates that the singers are most frequently plagued by this phenomenon. In one survey led by a neuroscientist revealed that women are far more vulnerable. Out of 20 subjects, twelve whose interest involved music and art have reported that they had encountered this most; whereas, others’ hobbies weren’t to listening songs. Rather, they like travelling and socializing.

Despite the fact that the interest in music exacerbates the condition of a victim of brain itch syndrome, which type of music one listens is also important. Then, which songs leave one vulnerable? Melodious ones. Even worse is when you know nothing  about what is playing exactly in your head, or you wake up with it, making you identify or frequently repeat empty sounds in approximation of what the real words might be. Normally effects fade up along a passage of time or diminish subsequently; however, for this it is not true either.

Perhaps, this relatively new function of our brain will help us understand the mechanism of our brain. It is much too soon to tell that it will open a new window of opportunity for neurologists, if possible, to study more intriguing possibilities. But, fathoming whether the big “why” will yield a single succinct answer or require myriad answers is likely to keep experts up at night for a little while yet.


By Ashokkumar Jangid


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