Earworms: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How to Get Rid of Them

You pass by a small shop in a hurry, and you hear the familiar “Divine Comedy” being played in the shop, and then you obviously can’t hear any music anymore, but a part of this song keeps playing automatically in your head. A paragraph, let you hum along without paying attention when you are doing other things! The point is, you obviously don’t want to do it, even if you try to stop yourself from doing it, but you still can’t stop… If you have such “symptoms”, please don’t panic, this is just the most normal phenomenon of “earworms”.

so-called “earworms”
“Earworm” is a literal translation from the German Ohrwurm, which compares the music that “crawls” into the brain to a worm. The feeling caused by “earworms” is called “cognitive itching”, and people can’t help but want to “scratch” (recall), which very vividly summarizes the characteristics of “brainwashing divine comedy”.

The phenomenon of earworms affects the vast majority of people. Studies have shown that 91.7% of people have had the experience of being drilled into their ears by “earworms”. Why are earworms so magical?

Researchers at Dartmouth University in the United States found in an experiment that when they played snippets of familiar songs to subjects, the subjects’ auditory cortex automatically completed the rest of the song—in other words, their brains “Playing” continues even when the song segment has long since ended. These tunes are constantly “tickling” in people’s brains, and the only way to stop the itching of the brain is to keep playing the song in the mind repeatedly, so you will be in an endless loop of brainwashing divine comedy.

Studies have found that you would not think of a certain brainwashing divine comedy, but if you are told in advance that you are forbidden to think about it, or the more you force yourself not to think about it, the more you will think about it, because you are making sure that you are really not thinking about it. When this brainwashing divine comedy, you have already thought about it.

Most of the time, earworms will not affect our normal work and study, because it does not last long. But if earworms linger or entangle repeatedly, as described above, it is really annoying, what should we do at this time?

Which songs are prone to “earworms”?
First of all, we should figure out which songs are likely to become “brainwashing divine comedy” and which ones will not.

Researchers at the Department of Applied Science and Arts at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland have done such an experiment. They analyzed more than 50 popular songs and identified those tunes that were mentioned more than three times by different people as “earworms”. It was found that the beats of the notes in the earworm tunes are usually longer and the intervals are smaller. The music with these two characteristics is less difficult, and it is easy for ordinary people to master and be familiar with this tune.

Another team from the University of London in the United Kingdom summarized three key features of the “Earworm” Divine Comedy: it has a cheerful rhythm, a simple melody, and some special intervals. The first two ensure that the tune is simple enough for the brain to remember easily, and the third feature allows the tune to be unique while keeping the rhythm simple.

Once the presence of earworms has been identified, we also need to know who is most susceptible to earworms and under what circumstances. Relevant studies have shown that musicians, people with active thinking, or people with excessive stress are more likely to experience earworms than ordinary people; from a gender perspective, women are more likely to trigger earworms than men. In addition, when you receive a lot of music baptism in a short period of time, such as just after listening to a concert, listening to car music for a long time, or listening to colleagues and classmates humming Divine Comedy all day, then earworms will also be in your mind Appear.

How to get rid of “earworms”?
Knowing the above knowledge, we can find ways to get rid of the effects of earworms.

First of all, it is a good way to listen to some songs that do not have the characteristics of earworms and let other songs replace earworms.

Secondly, if you really like this “Divine Comedy for Earworms”, you may wish to listen to the whole song repeatedly, because the melody that causes earworms in the Divine Comedy is generally only a short section of the whole song, so listening to the whole piece of music is not enough. Will reduce the earworm effect.

In addition, when the earworm appears in your mind, don’t pay too much attention to it, and don’t deliberately force yourself to forget it – don’t listen or ignore it, and it will disappear naturally slowly!