Why Do Songs Get Stuck In Our Head? The Science Behind Earworms

Why Do Songs Get Stuck In Our Head? The Science Behind Earworms

Written by Cristo Rogers, Posted on , in Section Stress Relief

Warning: Reading this article may infect your mind with catchy tunes.

Everyone has experienced an 'ear worm.' - A catchy tune or phrase that gets 'stuck' in a person's mind. Catchy choruses such as, "my popopopoker face mah popopoker face" or "TNT I'm Dynoohmite" may be familiar symphonic mantras that have plagued your mind from time to time (depending on your personal taste of top 40 pop tunes or your proclivity for headbanging classic metal). No mortal man is impervious to the madness of catchy melodies out staying their welcome within their own mind. - Think George Washington absent-mindedly whistling the tune of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" as he braved the Potamic River-

So, why do songs get stuck in our head? Well, believe it or not, Science has finally caught up with our hatred for annoying, albeit catchy, symphonies that get stuck in our mind.

The Science Behind Earworms

Durham University's music psychologist, Kelly Jakubowski, says that catchy tunes all share something in common. “There are certain features of a melody that make a song more likely to become an earworm,” she said.

During her studies, which included statistic analysis of thousands of 'earworms' from an online survey, Jakubowsky confirmed the popular belief that earworms are most likely to occur from listening to top 40 hits on the radio. Furthermore, the doctor's studies suggest that certain features that you hear on the radio share commonalities that make their melodies more inescapable than others.

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