Earworms – The Science Behind Songs Stuck in Your Head

earwormpiechartRegardless of who you are or what you do, it happens to everyone at some point in life: earworms.  Not to be confused with that pesky larva that destroys corn and tomatoes, an earworm is defined by Wikipedia as “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing”.  This annoying condition is formally referred to by experts as involuntary musical imagery (IMI), and a great deal of research has been done on this particular phenomenon.  This is no surprise since earworms are experienced by about 90% of us at least once a week, according to the Earworm Project conducted by the University of London.  Though most of us regard earworms as merely irritating, research indicates that 15% of people consider them so disturbing that they disrupt thought patterns and interfere with their lives.  This is a more serious condition known as intrusive musical imagery (IMI).

While it is still not understood exactly why we get them, analysis reveals that the type of song and your situation definitely influence the probability of catching an earworm.  In a Discover Magazine article, Professor James Kellaris, also known as “Dr. Earworm”, asserts that we are more susceptible if we are stressed, tired, or exposed to music repeatedly or for long periods of time.  And catchy songs with an upbeat melody or repetitive lyrics are more likely to get stuck in our heads than music without such patterns.  Which explains why so many of us are significantly distracted by the innocent verses of Disney’s “It’s A Small World”, doesn’t it?  Oops, sorry about that.

So what can you do to unstick that bothersome song?  Suggestions made by HowStuffWorks in “Getting Rid of Earworms” include some of the following:

  • Sing another song, or play another melody on an instrument.
  • Switch to an activity that keeps you busy.
  • Listen to the song all the way through (this works for some people).
  • Turn on the radio to get your brain tuned in to another song (or news program).

Here is where C. Crane can help you cure the dreaded earworm syndrome.  We have great radios for audio and reception, and have a number of options depending on your priorities.  Keep one of them handy for the next time you get that annoying commercial stuck in your head.

Enter to win in the comments on this blog by answering this question:

Tell us the most irritating or unusual earworm that ever got stuck in your head.

Win the CC Pocket Portable AM FM and Weather Radio. Drawing will be held August 31st. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations Emily Taylor! Thank you All for participating!

56 Responses to “Earworms – The Science Behind Songs Stuck in Your Head”

  1. Jackie Byrne Says:

    My boys sing songs over and over like The Wheels On The Bus about 2-3 times a day. Those lyrics definitely get stuck in my head! Thanks for sharing this information, what a fun and informative read!

  2. Geoff Atchley Says:

    Any of the songs sung by chipmunks.

  3. Jim Trowbridge Says:

    x


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