banishing earworms

earwormGot a song stuck in your head? Are you driving yourself to distraction because you cannot stop singing “All the Single Ladies,” or “Seasons in the Sun,” or maybe some jingle from a commercial? I used to try replacing one such earworm with another, which sometimes worked. Now scientists may have a better, more foolproof answer: anagrams. According to an article by Richard Gray, solving “tricky anagrams…can force the intrusive music out of your working memory.” Music psychologist Dr. Ira Hyman discovered, “If you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head.” Things which are too easy or too difficult do not engage our faculties sufficiently, so it is necessary to find that “hard-enough” middle ground. Hyman also discovered that reading a good novel can drive out an earworm.

1 comment to banishing earworms

  • Leslie Backus

    I use a Mozart round that is tricky to sing. I think that through a couple times and the other music is gone. (Heite keit und leichtes blut macht ein frohes herz und guden mut…)

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