Earworms affect all of us at some point, I mean, who hasn’t had a catchy pop song stuck in their head? Or worse, the song from the Hive advert. You know the one, where the guy singing it just sounds a little too pleased with himself?
These are all annoying enough. And then you become a parent. And you start having kids TV on during the day. And then you find yourself lying in bed with the perfect slumber party song from Sofia the first going round and round in your head. Or the ‘make some noise‘ song. Or ‘roll up the map‘ from Jake and the Neverland pirates.
You hate me a little bit now don’t you, for putting those songs in your head? Well I’m about to make it all better – apparently there’s a way to get them out again!
Dr Philip Beaman from the University explains that the brain’s tendency to play catchy tunes on repeat might be ‘a form of involuntary musical memory’. The key word here is ‘involuntary’, which is why you can’t just will away a song when it’s stuck in your head. What you can do though is interfere with the playing of these musical recollections.
Previous studies have shown that repeating a random word over and over again in your head can degrade your short-term memory; doing this while looking at list of words has been found to make most people forget 1/3 to 1/2 of the words on the list!
The study at the University of Reading suggests that chewing gum has a similar effect. It disrupts the musical memory enough to get that damn song out of your head.
Well, it has to be worth a try right?!