Why does your brain randomly make up words to songs when you don’t know/can’t remember the actual word?


remember the Taylor Swift song: “all the lonely Starbucks lovers”? Why do we hum when it’s sentences we don’t know but our brain fills in the blanks (wrongly) when it’s a few missing words?

In: Biology

Because this is how our memories ALWAYS work. For everything. It’s just more noticeable in this case.

In other words, our memory usually doesn’t actually store a full picture of what happened. Instead it only stores the most basic information. When you remember something, your brain fills in most of it with, essentially, guesses. This is why eyewitness testimony is so notoriously unreliable. This is also one explanation for the Mandela Effect.

Our memory isn’t a bit for bit save the way a computer stores it. It’s all references to other data, like you might remember apple as the color red, sweet, crunchy, and those 3 ideas are also references further down. Obviously this is simplified but that’s why we can store so much knowledge but it’s also why it’s unreliable as a picture perfect memory system. Even those with photographic memory have this unreliability even though it’s way more reliable than normal person.
Essentially our memory is a web of other memories and our brain does its best to fill in everything even if it’s wrong.

When you sing along to a song, you are probably remembering how it sounds, not remembering the words. When that memory fails to be perfect, you still remember the basic sounds like syllables and consonants, and you try to fill in the missing information.

Singing along with the wrong words sounds more correct than not singing any words at all.

It’s like listening to a song. If you sang “all the lonely Starbucks lovers”, I would instantly recognize it as Taylor Swift. But, unless I was paying close attention, I I might not notice the words are wrong. Or if I’m not a big Swift fan (sorry!) I might not know the words in the first place. Because the song’s sound is the most important part!