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Why repeating words sound like music to your brain

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Repeating spoken words is a technique familiar to music buffs — the rhythm of the repetition feels like song. Now, scientists think they can explain why. It turns out it has to do with how our brains process language.

For a paper published today in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers used an auditory illusion called the speech-to-song illusion to investigate how rhythms emerge from repeated phrases. They think it has to do with how we interpret language as words, and as syllables. When words are repeated, we stop paying as much attention to them, and our sense of the syllables’ beat takes over.

The speech-to-song illusion takes a string of words, and plays them on a loop. Eventually, the words shift from sounding like speech to something…

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