Scientists explain how you can get earworms out of your mind

You know that one song that got stuck in your head this morning? Maybe you didn’t know where it came from – it was like a bolt from the blue – or perhaps you caught the chorus seeping out of someone’s headphones on the tube?

And now it’s just stuck.

We all know earworms – songs that get lodged in our brains and place themselves on infinite repeat.

Now scientists at Western Washington University claim they have found a way of helping you get rid of the earworms.

And, strangely enough, the solution seems to be difficult anagrams.

“The key is to find something that will give the right level of challenge. If you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head.” Dr Ira Hyman, a music psychologist at Western Washington University and the one responsible for the research, explained.

“Something we can do automatically like driving or walking means you are not using all of your cognitive resource, so there is plenty of space left for that internal jukebox to start playing.”

“Likewise, if you are trying something too hard, then your brain will not be engaged successfully, so that music can come back. You need to find that bit in the middle where there is not much space left in the brain. That will be different for each individual.”

According to Dr Hyman, the project about earworms has wider potential than getting ‘that’ song out of your head.

“If we can understand how intrusive songs work, it should help us understand how having an intrusive thought stuck in your head can be controlled as well,” he said.

But even without the further potentials, I personally think Dr Hyman is on the short list for a Noble Prize. It, that is, his ideas helps me this Kylie Minogue song out of my mind (it’s been there ever since I read about his research):


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