A Brighton scientist has revealed churchgoers singing hymns and youths playing tinny music through their mobile phones are expressing themselves in similar ways.

Dr Harry Witchel, a reader in physiology at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said both parties are marking their territories through music.

He is due to explain his theory at a talk at the Cheltenham Science Festival later this week.

He said: “Sodcasting is where young people play their music openly on their mobile phones while on pubic transport.

“What a lot of people ask is why would you want to play music through such poor speakers? But this tinny music actually is an expression of territory. It creates a familiar environment around the young people that says this is who we are and where we belong.

“In a sense the music is defining the space, who should be there and what should be going on in that space. Church music does the same thing."

He outlines his theory in a new book called You Are What You Hear, believes that music is the human equivalent of such behaviour and may explain why humans have such diverse tastes.