Why do songs get stuck in our heads? (- Ask Smithsonian / Smithsonian.com)
Why do songs get stuck in our heads?
Lexile

Ah, yes, the evil ear worm, which sometimes has our hearing seemingly to stick on the same song, over and over. Polls show that a stunning 90% of us have experienced these hearing parasites and nine out of 10 report having them at least weekly.

Who remembers these classic offenders? "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "The Macarena," and my personal favorite, "Call Me Maybe." So what does science tell us about this musical torture? Not a whole lot yet but we're working on it.

Some say ear worms keep our brains occupied when they have nothing better to do, while others believe that they cause a part of our brain called the auditory cortex to itch, meaning we have to scratch it.

The oh, so helpful cures include singing the whole song to its end or occupying your poor brain some other way, such as solving puzzles.

Critical thinking challenge: How can your brain have an itch?

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COMMENTS (64)
  • SH2000Lovie
    9/17/2014 - 08:45 a.m.

    your brain can have on itch because its basically another different way of saying that we have nothing better to do, so we just sit there doing nothing but breathing and all o a sudden you have to scratch.

  • nhshannahk-Ste
    9/17/2014 - 12:32 p.m.

    I absolutely hate when I get ear worms, because, for me, they seem to last for years. I'm still trying to get "Who Let the Dogs Out" out of my brain for good!

  • NJ2001Game
    9/17/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    Maybe your brain gets a itch because you are thinking too hard or your brain just having a bad day because of what's happening throughout your day.

  • CameronJ-Bri
    9/17/2014 - 04:45 p.m.

    Thank you for the information. I always wondered why bad songs like "Baby," and any Miley Cyrus song gets stuck in my head, and now I know why.

  • CameronJ-Bri
    9/17/2014 - 05:00 p.m.

    Thank you. I've always wondered why annoying songs such as "Baby" or any Miley Cyrus song gets stuck in my head. I never knew that my brain has ways of entertaining me when I have nothing to do. I just wish my brain knew which songs I like.

  • CesarA-Bri
    9/17/2014 - 05:02 p.m.

    I really didn't know that we have evil worm, but it need more information about the evil worm like what it look, is it part of my brain, why is it there in the first place, or can we get it out of our head or kill it. I like it because part of the article had given me some respond in my question about songs in my head. I would have said it great article, but the article didn't give tons of fact about the worm nor cure because to me it sound that are rumors, not true cures.

    • JoeyH-Bri
      9/24/2014 - 04:56 p.m.

      Ya the article didn't give any facts about the worms or how the worms are connected to are brains forcing us to get songs stuck in our heads or how we could stop it from happening.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    9/17/2014 - 06:37 p.m.

    This happens to me every single day. I hear a song and it is stuck in my head all day long. The thing I really hate is when you hear a song on the radio and really like it but then can't figure out it's name, so you just keep singing it and singing it hoping the name will come to you. The two songs that are stuck in my head right now are Shake it off by Taylor Swift and Geronimo by Sheppard.

  • tyresel-Orv
    9/17/2014 - 08:18 p.m.

    I always thought that the reason music was stuck in our head was because we've listened to it so many times to point where as soon as we start to think of something you would think of the last thing you remember which is the song.

  • KiraL-1
    9/17/2014 - 10:31 p.m.

    This article pretty much sums up an average person's life, explaining why songs get stuck in our heads. It teaches the reader about the hearing parasite: the ear worm. There's been some speculation on whether or not the ear worm tries to keep our brains from being bored or the ear worm causes the auditory cortex to itch. Unfortunately, these are just some speculations on why songs get stuck in out heads. The real answer is still being researched. I found this article interesting because I had never really thought about why we get songs stuck in our heads. When we get more and more research in and have more answers about ear worms, I'll definitely be very interested in this topic.

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