There is always a song stuck in my head. From children’s cartoon theme songs to Taylor Swift anthems, my brain will be infected by whatever catchy tune is currently making the top 40 rounds.
It’s a serious problem. I can often be seen walking along the street singing to myself. Strangers turn back and look at me. It’s embarrassing.
So you can imagine my excitement on hearing that science may have found a very simple answer to the incessant tunes playing in my head. (Thanks, science!)
According to research published by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, the answer lies in chewing gum. Yep, it’s that simple. (Post continues after gallery.)
The idea is that by interfering with our “articulatory motor programming,” which is a fancy way of describing the motor skills involved with speech, we can distract ourselves from nagging tunes.
Researchers at the University of Reading conducted experiments using chewing gum and two incredibly catchy songs: David Guetta’s “Play Hard” and “Payphone” by Maroon 5. (If you suffer from the earworm affliction, these songs will now be in your head.)
Participants were made to listen to the music and then report how often they thought about the song, while chewing gum and then without.
The results: chewing the gum significantly reduced how much the participants thought about the song.
In an attempt to discover whether chewing gum was the only option, the researchers looked into other forms of motor activity, testing to see if tapping fingers worked the same way. While tapping helped, it didn't have the same rate of success as the chewy. Excuse me while I head out to stock up on Wrigleys...
If chewing gum doesn't kill the tune in your head, there are a few other things you can try.
According to Mashable, immersing yourself in another activity is a good way to stop a song from haunting you. Try picking up a book or watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
If that doesn't work, the next best thing is to embrace it. Blast the song at full volume, but make sure you listen to it all the way through. Singing along is an added bonus. Scientists call this the "saturate and seek closure" method.
And if none of that works, it's time to pull out what researchers call your 'cure song'. It needs to be catchy, but not so catchy it replaces the one you're trying to get rid of.
I for one will definitely be making sure I carry some emergency gum for those times when the office gets too quiet.
Do you have any tactics for getting earworms out of your head?
What song can't you get out of your head?