Is there a song that has been circulating in your mind, no matter how you divert your attention, the melody just can’t stop?
Earworms are not literally insects, but the effects described above. But don’t worry, there is a way to deal with the melody that can’t stop in your mind.
Dr. Tim Byron, from the School of Psychology, University of Wollongong, Australia, specializes in the interaction between music and memory, especially earworms. “Literary works often refer to the earbug effect as an unconscious musical image,” he said. We don’t deliberately think about these songs, but they always come up when you don’t expect them to, and they can’t stop, such as during the exam.
Linguist Roly Sussex said that the word earworm derives from the German word “ohrwurm”, which was used to describe a song buzzing in the brain as early as the 16th century, like an insect living in the brain.
Dr. Byron said that 99% of people had experience with earworms, so why do earworms exist? This is related to the activation of your memory.
“Music is largely associated with conscious memory. The experience of the moment triggers specific memories, smells and visual experiences of certain songs. If the lyrics are related to some of your memories, then when you repeat specific actions, these lyrics will come back to your mind.
How to Catch Earworms
The more often you hear a song over and over again, the more likely it is to get stuck in your head, explains Dr. Byron. “Sometimes it’s a monologue cycle, sometimes it’s a sentence or two.”
As for how to “catch” earworms, Dr. Byron said that it’s not just annoying songs that get stuck in your head. If you’re attracted to the song, whether it’s happy or sad, you won’t be so upset even if it’s been singing.
There’s a saying that singing Happy Birthday songs in your mind can kill earworms, but in fact it’s probably just replacing the previous song with Happy Birthday songs. How on earth can we “throw it away”? Dr. Byron proposed several methods.
“Interesting research shows that chewing gum is the best way to get rid of earworms,” he said. He explained that when a song circulates inside a single song, our brains force the sound of the song to be heard in our minds, but in fact they do not transmit the information to our mouths completely.
“So if you are brainwashed by a song, you will eventually sing it out of your mouth, even if you are unconscious. Another purpose of chewing gum is to activate the mouth and jaw, thereby distracting the brain.
He also suggests repeating certain syllables, such as “a,” which leaves your brain less and less room for brainwashing.