Researcher Study Cures for Musical “Earworms”

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Researchers at the University of London discovered potential “cures” for what they refer to as involuntary musical imagery, or earworms. Many know the all-too-common circumstances: you hear a tune and can’t get it out of your head, whether its for hours or days.

Participants were surveyed in two laboratories in Finland and the United Kingdom. While most found their earworm experiences to be “neutral or pleasant,” they still implement methods of coping with it. Researchers found the most popular ways of dealing with the tune are listening to the song or melody in its entirety, or replacing it with another one. The findings were published in the journal PLOS One.

Earworms fall into the category of spontaneous cognitions, which make up to 40 percent of people’s everyday thoughts, researchers say. Other spontaneous cognitions include mind wandering or random pop-up memories. More than 90 percent of people report experience earworms at least once a week.

Most Finnish volunteers reported that they listened to the song the whole way through to try and get rid of the annoyance, while some English participants use a tune as a cure. The most common melody? “God Save the Queen.”

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