Better Health Report: Earworms

Have you ever had an earworm?

No it’s not some kind of insect that crawls into your ear, but a euphemism for when you get a song stuck in your head.

If it’s happened to you, it can be maddening, especially if you’re trying to go to sleep.

But experts think they know what causes earworms to occur and have some advice about what you can do to get rid of them.

First of all, an earworm doesn’t happen only with songs you don’t like, it can happen with a song you love too. Research has found that there is partial support for the theory known as the Zei-gar-nik Effect, which states that our minds can get hung up on an incomplete song that we don’t know well. It’s like our mind can’t complete the song and put it away so it just keeps playing. But they also found that earworms can occur with complete songs too, meaning you DO know the song well and CAN complete it in your head.

What they found is that people are LESS likely to form earworms if they are engaged in an absorbing mental task either during or after hearing the song.

Some suggestions for getting rid of the earworm are to find the song on the internet and listen to it intently all the way through, just in case it’s an incomplete earworm. Then immediately afterward do something mentally engaging, like a Suduko or crossword puzzle. If you’re driving or trying to sleep, try doing some math calculations. It may also help to listen to some other favorite songs to hopefully drive the earworm from your mind.

And if it makes you feel better, researchers have found that people who get earworms are more musically talented than people who don’t.

This is Joan Trimble wishing you wellness.


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