Why do we at times suffer from what we call the “last song syndrome”? Why do songs get inextricably stuck in our heads?
Experts say the culprits are earworms. No, they are not parasites that crawl into your ear and make you insane by playing one song in your brain, but they are parasitic in the sense that they get lodged in your head and cause a sort of “cognitive itch” or “brain itch”—a need for the brain to fill in the gaps in a song’s rhythm.
When we listen to a song, it basically triggers a part of the brain called the auditory cortex. After the song has ended, our brains kept “singing” the song, the only way to “scratch” brain itch. Unfortunately, the more you scratch the more you itch, so you are stuck in an unending song cycle.
So why do some songs get stuck in our heads and not others?
Some experts say that women, musicians and people who are neurotic, tired or stressed are most prone to earworm attacks, although the reason for this remains unknown.
Unfortunately, there’s no tried and true way to get songs out of your head once they’re stuck in there. They can stick in your brain for anywhere from a few minutes to several days. Here are a few tips which might help.
- Sing another song, or play another melody on an instrument.
- Do an activity that keeps you busy, such as working out.
- Listen to the song all the way through