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October 11, 2007

BehindTheMedspeak: Earworms


That's different.

But this is a virtual worm.

Daniel Levitin, an associate professor of psychology at McGill University and author of "This Is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession," was interviewed by Monica Hesse for a September 2, 2007 story from which the following is excerpted.

    On earworms:

    Scientists call songs that get stuck in your head "earworms" after the German Ohrwurm. We don't know a lot about how or why they happen — it's hard to get funding to study this type of thing — but we know a little. Like, it tends not to be a whole song that gets stuck in your head, just 15-20 seconds of one, and it tends to be a simple song that even non-singers can hum without effort.

    Some people get earworms so bad that it interferes with their ability to sleep or work. For those people, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help. They relax the circuits. Then again, some people become musicians because they have earworms. Neil Young told me that he started writing songs because he couldn't get rid of the tunes in his head.


Andrew Lodge of EarwormsLearning.com has turned earworms around by putting them to good use — learning languages.

October 11, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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I got Yaketty Sax-ed a couple of weeks ago by hearing it as a ringtone. Took over a week to shift it. Scary.

Posted by: Skipweasel | Oct 13, 2007 6:22:43 PM

I'll for sure be checking out more on this topic. The thought that a tangible/'cureable' creature inspires or devastates humans musically is wonderfully romantic! You guys should check out Lone Star 92.5! They play the greats, Including our guy Neil Young. Alternative Country, Classic Rock, and Outlaw Country, all with way less commercials. Check out http://www.lonestar925.com to listen live! I work with them and I'm a listener!

Posted by: Samantha | Oct 11, 2007 4:10:01 PM

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