Image: Flickr/Jono Haysom
Earworms. Ugh. We've all had them: songs that won't go away, rattling on and on and leaving our minds on "repeat" for hours, days, and even weeks. There are a number of ways to help get rid of the bastards once they are stuck in one's head, but what if there were a way to avoid earworms altogether? Well, these scientists think they found a way out of this sticky situation, by means of another! Apparently, chewing on gum reduces the number of "unwanted musical thoughts." Chew on that!
Want to block earworms from conscious awareness? B(u)y gum! "Three experiments examine the role of articulatory motor planning in experiencing an involuntary musical recollection (an "earworm"). Experiment 1 shows that interfering with articulatory motor programming by chewing gum reduces both the number of voluntary and the number of involuntary-unwanted-musical thoughts. This is consistent with other findings that chewing gum interferes with voluntary processes such as recollections from verbal memory, the interpretation of ambiguous auditory images, and the scanning of familiar melodies, but is not predicted by theories of thought suppression, which assume that suppression is made more difficult by concurrent tasks or cognitive loads. Experiment 2 shows that chewing the gum affects the experience of "hearing" the music and cannot be ascribed to a general effect on thinking about a tune only in abstract terms. Experiment 3 confirms that the reduction of musical recollections by chewing gum is not the consequence of a general attentional or dual-task demand. The data support a link between articulatory motor programming and the appearance in consciousness of both voluntary and unwanted musical recollections." Related content: NCBI ROFL: Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass. NCBI ROFL: Science proves right-handers are jocks, left-handers are nerds, and ambidextrous people love making pot holders. NCBI ROFL: National anthems and suicide rates.