Have you ever wondered why do songs get stuck in our heads when we hear them? The reason is you probably have an earworm. An earworm is a catchy piece of the song that keeps on playing in your mind, even after it finishes playing. According to scientist Elizabeth Margulis, an earworm “tends to be this little fragment, often a bit of the chorus of the song, that just plays and replays like it’s stuck on loop in your head.” The song “What Does the Fox Say?” and “Who Let the Dogs Out?” are just tunes designed to make earworms. Earworms are actually really common.  A study found that more than 91 percent of people reported having an earworm at least once a week, while about 25 percent had them more than once a day.

Again and Again

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Songs play over and over in our minds

Listening to the same song repetitively could also breed earworms. Once you heard the song 4-5 times then the sound of the current not reminds you of the next note that is to come.”You can almost feel exactly what’s going to happen next,” Margulis says. A song’s structure might contribute to brain burrowing, too. “There are general patterns of characteristics for songs that frequently get stuck,” says James Kellaris, a professor who has studied the influence of music on memory.

Despite the complaints of sufferers, the majority of earworms are actually enjoyable or neutral experiences. Research done by Victoria Williamson states that 30% of the people that were interviewed say that earworms are “annoying,” So if you ask someone about an earworm, they will probably say that the one they had yesterday was annoying.

How To Get Rid of Them

How do you get rid of the annoying earworms? Williamson says that the best method is to listen to other music or do an activity that involves language, like a crossword puzzle. Believe it or not, another surprising way to clear the earworms are just to listen to the same song over and over again. This could exhaust or “complete it”, says Williamson. Earworms are only fragments of the music, so hearing the entire song, could relieve the person from repeating the same part of the song over again.

So next time that you have a disturbing earworm, don’t forget to do a crossword puzzle or simply listen to the entire song.