Ongoing History Daily: Exterminating Earworms

Most of us are familiar with earworms, those unwanted catchy songs that get caught on an endless loop inside your head.  Usually, earworms aren’t that bad and will go away on their own after a while.  But if you’re really into music, they can be a problem. 

Super music fans report that earworms last longer and are harder to get rid of.  A study on “stuck song syndrome” in the British Journal of Psychology says that it’s very unusual for an earworm to last more than 24 hours. At the same time, though, they noted that the length of an earworm will often exceed what we think is our capacity for auditory memory. 

Neuroscientists find that fascinating.  And the best way to get rid of an earworm?  Acceptance.  Let it run its course and it’ll go away. Researchers found that to be much more effective than trying things that may block it because earworms fight back.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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