Why Songs Get Stuck In Your Head

INHEAD2There are scientific explanations for just about everything, even for when songs get stuck in your head. Picture yourself driving to work and listening to the radio, enjoying it and nodding to the beat. You park your car, humming the tune in your head as you begin work. By the time work is over, the song is still playing in your head on repeat, over and over and over. Why does this happen?
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When we listen to a song, the song triggers a part of our brain called the auditory cortex. Some researchers at Dartmouth University found out that when they played a certain part of a familiar song to subjects, their brain filled in the rest of the song. It was as if a mosquito bite bit the audio cortex and itching it was repeating the song over and over again. However we all know what happens when you itch a mosquito bit for too long.Other theories touch on the idea that stuck songs are like thoughts that people try to suppress. The harder people try not to think about them and cover them up, the stronger they come back to us. Research from the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration done by James Kellaris suggests that people who are tired or stressed are most affected by this phenomenon. 74% of people get caught by songs with lyrics, 15% are caught with commercial jingles, and 11% are caught with instrumental music stuck in their head. INHEAD3Fortunately there is good news. There are a couple of ways to get songs out of your head, and here are a few:
  • Sing another song that you like, an instrument or melody
  • Get invested in an activity that will keep your body and mind busy, like working out
  • Listen to the song all the way through
  • Turn on the radio and drown out the song with something else
  • Share the song with a friend
  • Picture an earworm (representing the song) crawling out of your ear and you stomping it on the ground. Yuk!