News Stories

Greatest Hits May Cause Great Damage

Drugs and music seem to go together naturally, but if you take Ecstasy while listening to loud music, you may get permanent brain damage. Is there a scientific way to predict which songs will be hits? Scientists have tried to find a method to do this for movies, now they want to find a scientific method that will help create hit songs. Will this work any better than their movie methods, which have so far left Hollywood cold?

Andy Coghlan writes in New Scientist that rats that were fed Ecstasy while exposed to loud noise had intensified and prolonged reactions to the drug (which is probably why drug users combine the two things in the first place). The trouble was, the rats' brains were still not working well five days later. It turns out that big brain "highs" can lead to the opposite?depression?when the source of the high is abruptly cut off.

Bjjorn Carey writes in LiveScience.com that a new study shows that we buy music based at least partly on what we think other people like. Researchers studied this by creating a fake music store on the internet for about 14,000 volunteers. The participants could browse through the store, which contained only the names of bands that were unknown to them (because none of them were real). One group was given real songs to listen to, which they could rate with from one to five stars. This group could also download any song they wanted to.

Another group was given the same song list, but they could also find out which ones had been downloaded most often. As researchers expected, the people in this group downloaded more of the songs that the people in the first group had downloaded, so they were clearly influenced by the preferences of the first group.

Or it could have simply been that the songs that were downloaded most often really WERE better, although taste in music is subjective (meaning we don't all like the same songs). This study was reported in the journal Science, which is a legitimate scientific publication. However, it seems to have at lot in common with past studies concerning questions such as "Do dogs dream?" The scientists were undoubtedly given a large grant for this research.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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