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Making the songs stop in your head

Heard any good songs lately? Still hearing them after the music stops? You may have an earworm.

"Earworms" is the term given to songs or advertising jingles that intrusively stick in your head. Researchers at Western Washington University triggered earworms by playing several songs over and over, including the Beatles' "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Over the next 24 hours, the songs would intrusively pop back into the heads of study participants, especially at times their minds were wandering or they were not intellectually occupied. Researchers found loading up participants with challenging mental tasks ultimately killed the earworm.

The study may sound frivolous, but researchers believe it has serious implications. Many people, especially as they get older, find themselves grappling with constant thoughts of grief and worry. Researchers noted that their study can "provide a valuable method to investigate intrusive thoughts," and, perhaps, find ways to alleviate them.

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