166 Sticky Song, Sticky Solution

Based on research by Beaman, C.P., Powell, K., & Rapley, E. (2015), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Have you ever had a song stick in your head all day? Do you sing the same lines over and over annoying yourself and possibly those around you? Here’s some good news! Recent research has discovered a simple and easy way to put a stop to it!

The auditory cortex is the part of the brain that processes the sounds we hear. This brain region is triggered when listening to a song so when we hear a tune again, our brain fills in the rest repeatedly causing the annoying phrase repetition. Psychology researchers in the UK wondered if they could interrupt this process, by counting or doing something. Chewing was proposed to help interrupt auditory memories by providing a distraction of irrelevant sounds. Research participants heard catchy songs while either chewing or not chewing gum. The individuals who chewed gum reduced the number of times they re-experienced the song. Additionally, researchers compared the effectiveness of gum chewing with a simple motor activity. During the introduction of a new song, half of the participants tapped their fingers to the beat, while the others engaged in gum chewing. Tapping was less effective than chewing in preventing the re-experiencing of the tune.

Next time you worry about getting a catchy song stuck in your head, reach for some gum!


Beaman, C. P., Powell, K., & Rapley, E. (2015). Want to block earworms from conscious awareness? B (u) y gum!. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,

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