I am, without a doubt, an absolute sucker when it comes to getting songs stuck in my head. Moreover, it isn’t usually as though I mentally go over the entirety of a song’s lyrics in my head; rather, it’s the same one or two lines, over and over, until I have the urge to rip my own head off.
I also have a weird habit of blending numerous songs together when one gets stuck in my head. If anyone else experiences this and could let me know to give me some peace of mind, it would be greatly appreciated.
As irritating as it can be to get a song stuck in our heads, as it turns out, it could be beneficial for our long-term memory, explains an article from The Good News Network.
“If you have watched TV since the 1990s, the sitcom theme song I’ll Be There for You has likely been stuck in your head at one point or another.
“New research from UC Davis suggests these experiences are more than a passing nuisance—they play an important role in helping memories form, not only for the song, but also related life events like hanging out with friends—or watching other people hang with their friends on the ’90s television show, Friends.
“This new research offers an initial glimpse into these mechanisms and, somewhat surprisingly, finds that the songs that get stuck in your head help that process of strengthening memories as they first form, the authors said.
“Thus, this is the first research to link two of the most common phenomena people experience with music—earworms (having a song stuck in your head) and music-evoked remembering.
“For their latest study, the researchers worked with 25 to 31 different people in each of three experiments, over three different days, spaced weeks apart.
“Subjects first listened to unfamiliar music, and then, a week later, listened to the music again, this time paired with likewise unfamiliar movie clips. In one instance, movies were played without music.
“The research subjects, all UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students, were subsequently asked to remember as many details as they could from each movie as the music played. They were also quizzed about their recollection of the associated tunes and how often they experienced each of the tunes as an earworm. None of them had formal music training.
“The more the tune played, the more accurate the memory.
“The results: the more often a tune played in a person’s head, the more accurate the memory for the tune became and, critically, the more details the person remembered from the specific section of the movie with which the tune was paired.
“With only one week between when they saw the movie, and when they were asked to remember as many details from the movie as they could while listening to the movie soundtrack, the effect of repeatedly experiencing a tune from the soundtrack as an earworm resulted in near-perfect retention of the movie details.
“These people’s memories, in fact, were as good as when they had first seen the movie. Additionally, most subjects were able to report what they were typically doing when their earworms occurred, and none of them mentioned the associated movies coming to mind at those times,” the article explains.
I suppose it’s safe to say that the next time you find yourself with a bothersome tune stuck in your head, it may not be so unpleasant knowing this information.