Category Archives: How our brains work

Episode 5: What makes a sad song sad?

Ever been listening to a sad song wondering why it sounds so darn sad? Happy, sad, peaceful or angry — there’s just something about music that makes us feel a certain way. Apart from any lyrics, there seems to be much more to music than meets the ear.

In our investigation of how and why we perceive music the way we do, we talk to physicist Dr. Roy Briere and music theorist Dr. Richard Randall from Carnegie Mellon University, and psychologists Dr. Meagan Curtis from Purchase College and Dr. Shantala Hegde from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences.

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Episode 4: What does the brain do while reading?

As you’re reading this sentence, what is your brain doing? What’s actually going on as it turns a bunch of lines and circles into words that carry meaning? This week, I Wonder… explores the world of reading.

During the program, we talk to some people who have been thinking about the reading brain for quite a while: Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the SquidDr. Marcel Just from Carnegie Mellon University, and Dr. Charles Perfetti from the University of Pittsburgh. We also learn of an interesting story from the blog Krulwich Wonders.

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Episode 1: When do we get our first memories?

In our pilot episode of I Wonder…, a caller wonders if it’s actually possible for her 30-something year old brother to recall a memory from when he was only 4 years old.

In addition to surveying some students on Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) campus, we explore the world of memories by talking with several memory experts: Lynne Reder from CMU, and Mark Wheeler and James Becker from the University of Pittsburgh. We also search for insight by talking with those who are constantly learning, but may not fully understand what a memory constitutes: children.

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