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Got An Annoying Song Stuck In Your Head? Try This Easy Fix

Got An Annoying Song Stuck On Your Head? Try This Easy Fix

This could very well be the easiest (and tastiest) fix for ditching that annoying song in your head.

When an artist launches a new, uber-catchy song, my heart is happy and my brain is… well, not so much. (Let’s just say I’m not all about that bass.) My favorite tunes are destroyed by earworms so often—you know, that thing where a song plays in your head over and over and over (and over!)—I’m starting to feel like that guy in “The Shining.”

Luckily, a new study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology has revealed an easy fix: Chew gum. Word is our auditory cortex—the area of the brain that processes auditory info—is triggered when we listen to tunes, so when we hear a catchy song again, our mind fills in the rest. Repeatedly.

According to researchers, chewing gum disrupts the whole broken record thing by interfering with the motor skills linked to speech—otherwise known as “articulatory motor programming.” Three experiments were conducted to test the theory, and in each participants were exposed to catchy songs while either chewing or not chewing gum.

The first experiment had participants listen to “Play Hard” by David Guetta and report each time they thought about the song and each time they could ‘hear’ it in their heads. They were first asked not to think about the song, and later were free to think about whatever they wanted. In both instances, chewing gum reduced the number of times the song was experienced.

The second experiment was similar in scope, but instead of having to force themselves not to think about it, participants were simply asked to report when they thought about the song versus when they actually ‘heard’ it in their heads.

The third experiment looked at whether earworms could be avoided by engaging in other motor activities. After listening to “Payphone” by Maroon 5, one group of participants chewed gum while the other tapped their fingers. Although the tapping did help in the fight against earworms, the result was significantly less effective than chewing gum.

Lead study author Dr. Phil Beaman, hopes that after additional research, techniques like this can be can applied to other issues, such as OCD. He writes:

“Interfering with our own ‘inner speech’ through a more sophisticated version of the gum-chewing approach may work more widely. However, more research is needed to see whether this will help counter symptoms of obsessive-compulsive and similar disorders.

Considering over 99 percent of the population experience earworms (I’ve had Chumbawamba stuck in my head since seventh grade), it’s a relief to know all you have to do to put your brain on mute is pop a piece of Juicy Fruit—but if you start thinking about the brand’s theme song as you do, you’re on your own.

What tricks do you use to get an annoying song out of your head?

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Chewing gum image via Shutterstock

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