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February 20, 2012 at 10:26 AMComments: 3 Faves: 0

Song Stuck In Your Head? Here's Why

By Brad Plaggemars More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Mental Marvels Blog Series

Have you ever had a song that you just can't get out of your head?  No matter how hard you try, you find yourself singing or humming that song to yourself. As someone who is always listening to different music, I usually have many. Lately, it's been "Caves" by Chiodos. 

The quite irritating phenomenon of songs that play over and over as if engraining themselves in our minds is called "earworm."  And as Cari Nierenberg, in her article "4 reasons a song gets stuck in your head" points out, earworms are a very common experience.

According to Nierenberg, approximately 90 percent of people have them one or more times a week! But why is it that these earworms seem to invade our everyday thinking?

Researchers took data from 604 people who completed an online survey.  The results showed four common triggers:

  • Music exposure: recently hearing a song or hearing a song repeatedly. 
  • Memory triggers: Seeing a certain person or word or being in a certain situation reminding you of a song. 
  • Emotional frame of mind: Feeling a specific emotion while hearing a song could make it stick in your head. 
  • Low attention states: Daydreaming or dreaming while asleep can also trigger earworms

The songs that get stuck in our heads can be a song you hear often or a song that you have just heard for the first time. They can also be a song that you either do or don't like.

There isn't a specific method to getting rid of earworms, but some suggestions include reading a book, talking to someone, or keeping yourself busy with some other activity.

Had any earworms lately?

What do you do when you get one?


Peter Gerdes

Michael D. Dunn

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  • sometimes i wake up and have a song in my head. ill sing it all morning and then ill hear it. i guess thats my technique! lol

  • huh, I think earworms is an interesting word to describe a song getting stuck in your head! wonder how they came up with that. Also, I have definitely had a song stuck in my head before all day at work because of listening to it on the ride over. :)

  • Same here!

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