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Music Entertainment Idle Science

Scientists Study Getting an Unwanted Tune Out of Your Head 219

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Richard Gray reports that scientists have found a way to help anyone plagued by those annoying tunes that lodge themselves inside our heads and repeat on an endless loop — when snippets of a catchy song inexplicably play like a broken record in your brain. The solution can be to solve some tricky anagrams to force the intrusive music out of your working memory allowing the music to be replaced with other more amenable thoughts. 'The key is to find something that will give the right level of challenge,' says Dr Ira Hyman, a music psychologist at Western Washington University who conducted the research. 'If you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head.' Hyman says that the problem, called involuntary memory retrieval, is that something we can do automatically like driving or walking means you are not using all of your cognitive resource, so there is plenty of space left for that internal jukebox to start playing. Dr Vicky Williamson, a music psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, says that the most likely songs to get stuck are those that are easy to hum along to or sing and found that that Lady Gaga was the most common artist to get stuck in people's heads, with four of her catchy pop songs being the most likely to become earworms – Alejandro, Bad Romance, Just Dance and Paparazzi. Other surveys have reported Abba songs such as Waterloo, Changes by David Bowie or the Beatles' Hey Jude."
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Scientists Study Getting an Unwanted Tune Out of Your Head

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  • Anecdotal Evidence (Score:4, Interesting)

    by regular_guy (1979018) on Monday March 25, 2013 @01:09PM (#43273847)
    Though I don't listen to pop music, I've found it often to be quite invasive. But I have easily gotten it out of my head by actually singing it, might be some sort of internal thought process that needs to be executed. But again, just some guy's anecdote.
  • Meditation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grampa John (1817948) on Monday March 25, 2013 @02:05PM (#43274565)
    I was plagued by bad songs stuck in my head until I took up meditation many years ago. Learning to focus clears your mind. No anagrams needed. Watching your breathing is enough.
  • by cusco (717999) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Monday March 25, 2013 @02:05PM (#43274571)
    I've spent a lot of time on hold waiting for tech support over the years. The absolute worst was a vendor who had a CD with the theme songs for nine different sitcoms. Spent over an hour and a half one day listening to the theme from Friends, Mad About You, The Simpsons, etc.

    The best ever was when I called Symantec about fifteen years ago. Their 'Muzak on hold' machine had broken and someone had run out to their car in the parking lot and brought in their Sony Discman to plug into the phone system. The CD in the player was Bill Cosby's 'Wonderfulness' album. By the time tech support finally picked up the phone I was in a pretty good mood. Only good experience I ever had with Symantec tech support.
  • Re:no subject (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overlordofmu (1422163) <overlordofmu@gmail.com> on Monday March 25, 2013 @04:29PM (#43276055)
    My favorite meme is the wheel, followed by calculus as a close second.

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