It happens to all of us every once in a while, but why does the last song you heard end up playing on an eternal loop? Why can’t we seem to get it to go away once it’s there? Is it a glitch in the Matrix? Are you just going crazy?
Well, not exactly.
Involuntary Musical Imagery, also known as an “earworm.”
That’s right, there’s a name for the repetitive annoyance that was once a jam you loved. Earworms like to sneak into your brain when you least expect it, like when you’re folding laundry or tossing a ball with your dog. Neither requires much concentration, and both leave room for your mind to wander.
If music gets stuck in your head on a seemingly regular basis, you’re not alone; ninety percent of people experience the same occurrence.
What causes earworms?
We still don’t quite understand what triggers INMI, there is a common theme. Fast-paced, upbeat tempos and a memorable chorus line are more likely to create a loop in your mind. Those who are more musically inclined or experiencing an increase in stress are more likely to have earworm encounters.
How do I get a song out of my head?
Earworms don’t usually last much longer than a day, but on rare occasions, they can go on for weeks. Think of it as a bad round of hiccups, there’s not much you can do besides reducing the intensity and waiting for it to pass. For INMI, you have a couple of different options in terms of lessening repetition. For starters, you could try playing the song one time, all the way to completion. Sometimes, this satisfies the brain just enough to knock the earworm right out.
If that doesn’t work, you can always try chewing some gum. Apparently, the sound of chewing can somewhat block out the sound of your nagging thoughts.