What’s the difference between singing and talking? Diana Deutsch discovered that a spoken phrase morphs into singing if it is repeated four or five times.

so strangly

In this short clip from Radio Lab she is explaining how she discovered the phenomenon to the host Jad Abumrad.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here’s the original phrase again. Does it sound different?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I tried the same thing with a clip from another show. This is from a radio show called Think produced by KERA in Dallas. Krys Boyd is introducing her guest, James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I just picked a short phrase at random and looped it. Listen to the looped phrase to fool your brain.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Here’s the original again. My brain was tricked.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



Diana Deutsch has a couple of CDs demonstrating her discoveries. There are samples on her website: