Why do certain songs constantly “roll around” in my head?

Posted on Jan 12, 2021      225

Every person at least once in his life has faced this phenomenon: after listening to music, one song does not leave our head, continuing to scroll through our consciousness again and again. Sometimes we even unconsciously hum it or beat the rhythm with our fingers, following the annoying motif in our head. There is no way to get rid of it, and the melody is forgotten only after some time.

It turns out that this phenomenon even has its own scientific name - “involuntary musical imagery,” which can be translated as arbitrary musical images. But much more common is the term “earworm” or “compulsive melody.

The phenomenon of compulsive melody has received a great deal of attention from psychologists. According to studies, 98% of people around the world have encountered it, with the most common duration of a compulsive melody being longer in women than in men. In over 70% of cases, music “gets stuck” in our heads if it has words, not just a melody.

So, what makes a melody obtrusive and makes it go “round and round” in our heads? It should be noted right away that this does not happen with those songs we dislike. Only those songs we like are remembered. And even if you’re sure that you can’t stand the song, but can’t get it out of your head, it means that your body likes this song. Its rhythm and frequency perfectly suits the frequency of your breathing, the work of your nervous, cardiovascular and other body systems. More often than not, a compulsive melody gets into your head during a routine and even exercise. Rarely are complex melodies with lots of processing memorized - the brain prefers simple and frequently repeated rhythms.

So what to do to break the endless cycle of repetition of a compulsive song? There is no single solution here, but psychologists advise to try to distract and diversify your activities. Some experts claim that the climax of this song will help to break the chain of repetitions, you must find it and listen to it again until the very end. After that it is necessary to distract yourself with something: to solve a problem, read a book or at least chew gum.