Why Some Songs Keep Playing in Your Head

Have you ever felt frustrated being stuck in a song that seems to play on an endless loop inside your head? While the “Last Song Syndrome (LSS)” lasts for hours in many people, some suffer for several days. Luckily, after extensive researches and studies, experts found out why songs are stuck and how to get them out of our heads.

Why Songs Get Stuck in Your Head

According to the experts, the culprits are earworms or the random snippets of songs or tunes that pop in your mind repeating themselves like a broken record. They stay in your head and cause some sort of “cognitive or brain itch” where victims need to fill in the gaps in a song’s rhythm.

James Kellaris a.k.a. Dr. Earworm, a professor at the University of Cincinnati, says that 98% of us experience earworms and women were more likely to retain them than man. It’s a common experience so you don’t have to worry that it’s a symptom of some mental disease.

Researchers from the University of London state that there are four main triggers for earworms.

  1. Music Exposureis recently hearing a tune or repeatedly hearing it.
  2. Memory Trigger – means seeing a particular person or word, hearing a familiar beat, or being in a situation that reminds you of a song.
  3. Affective State – happens when you hear a song while you’re feeling stressed, surprised, or happy.
  4. Low Attention State – occurs when you hear a song while you’re dreaming or your mind is wandering.

How to Get Them Out

Victoria Williamson, one of the researchers said, “These mental tunes appear to be a typical everyday consequence of the way that our brains process music.” She also explains, “Earworms are likely to be as individual as we are in both our musical tastes and music listening habits.” The cure is to occupy your mind with engaging or complex tasks said Dr. Ira Hyman, a music psychologist. Together with his team, they found out that the key is to find something that will give the right level of challenge to your brain. Similar to the Goldilocks effect, it can’t be too easy or too hard and that task will be different for every individual.



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