June 08, 2010

Earworms (The Song That Is Stuck In Your Head)

An earworm is when there is a tune that gets stuck in your head that lasts for minutes to hours. It wasn't really much interest for scientists to study until recently when they were able to determine the "characteristics" of a good earworm. In a study published in the British Journal of Psychology in November 2009 titled "Earworms ('stuck song syndrome'): Towards a natural history of intrusive thoughts", they found that the best earworms are:

- Repetitive songs with lots of la-la-las and doopity-doopity-dahs.
- Very familiar songs and it’s usually the chorus that gets stuck.
- Simple songs with sappy lyrics
- Happen when people are in a positive emotional state
- Person usually participating in non-intellectual activities, like walking
- Musicians’ earworm usually lasts longer

No good tricks to get rid of an earworm unfortunately, though there's lots of anecdotal suggestions.

Read about this in an MSNBC article here.

There was also an NPR Radiolab episode about this here.

Read the research paper here.

Please comment on your best trick to get rid of an earworm!
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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