Do you know what an earworm is? You do, but the phrase may be new to you. An 'earworm' is a song that gets stuck in your head and drives you crazy. As a life long sufferer, it has gotten really bad lately. So bad, in fact, that I was able to diagnose and cure it. I genuinely think I know the reason these songs get stuck in your head to play over and over. The cure? I will reveal that in a moment.
See, I listen to my iPod at work very quietly. As you can imagine, I have to pause it incessantly to help people. I don't mind doing this at all. The music is so low you can't hear it. Anyhow, since I moved to this system, I suffer from ear worms all day long. It is a problem, because I can't concentrate on business. I soon realized what it was. Whenever I didn't finish a song… it stuck. There is only one cure, to listen to the song to completion.
If you are familiar with optical illusions, you know they work because the brain wants to complete things. In fact, it has to. This is why movies look like moving pictures to us, when in fact they are just a series of completely still images. The phenomenon is called 'persistence of vision'.
So, I am going to call earworms 'persistence of hearing'. Your brain so desperately needs the resolution of that hook that it will replay it over and over. This, I believe, is why commercials are so pernicious with hooks you can't get out of your head. There is no resolution to those 'hooks'. The song on a commercial never comes to a logical close, so your brain get deeply concerned about the fate of those baby back baby back baby back ribs.
I had rid myself of this problem driving, as I listen to NPR talk radio only now. Clear Channel finally got me to drop FM for good. So, on the weekend that doesn't happen to me. At work, though, I was stricken. I found by taking the extra 90 seconds after I left my desk to come back and hear the song to it's end… earworm gone! To be fair, it usually isn't that easy, as ambient music is aural pollution all around you. Traffic, the gas station, that crap they play at the grocery store, you get the idea. This method even works on the holy mother of all earworms, 'The Girl from Ipanema'. That is, of course, if you have your own copy of the tune. It is worth it, as every director uses the tune in every elevator scene in a movie. It is some kind of inside joke to the film community, I guess.Powered by Sidelines