Whether it's the theme from "Frozen" or Pharrell Williams' ubiquitous "Happy," chances are you have had a tune stuck in your head that just would not go away. It's called an earworm for good reason because it's when a catchy tune worms its way into your brain and you can't make it stop. According to researchers, earworms are incredibly common — inflicting more than 90 percent of us with loops on a weekly basis.
Earworms are so common, and distracting, that researchers have struggled for years to determine a way to prevent them. And as it turns out, the solution may be easy as chewing gum.
Research published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2014 suggests that chewing gum might be the easiest and most effective means of making an earworm vanish. The theory is that gum interferes with "articulatory motor programming" — the motor skills that are involved in speech. Thus, by chewing gum we can prevent our brain from singing along to those catchy tunes.
For the study, researchers from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom conducted three experiments involving chewing gum and listening to catchy tunes and found in each case that gum chewers had an easier time dislodging earworms than those who were not chewing.
And just in case you were wondering, it doesn't even take that many words to get a song stuck in your head. Twitter user Jonathan Barkan challenged people to get a song stuck in his head using five words of less. Let's just say...it was very effective. From, "Don't You, Forget About Me" by Simple Minds to the opening line from Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" and even just two words, "My Sharona!"
I bet those songs are now stuck in your head. Sorry about that. Really, I am.
Go grab some gum.