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 "Uptown Funk" or "It's A Small World" 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 might be easy as chewing gum.
New research published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 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, in addition to the songs mentioned previously, some of tunes voted most likely to get stuck in your head include Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand," and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."
Sorry about that. Really, I am.
Go grab some gum.
Related on MNN: