Yesterday was one of those weird days that I had multiple annoying songs going through my head constantly. Every song I heard would get stuck in my head, but rather than replacing what was already there, it just added a layer to the chaotic cacophony that is my brain. The all-knowing internet has informed me that the term for a song being stuck in one’s head is ‘earworm’, but I personally prefer the term ‘psychaudio compulsion’.  I like the sound of the phrase “I am experiencing a psychaudio compulsion” much more than the phrase “I have a song going through my head.”

Apparently, a good deal of research has been done on the topic of earworms/ psychaudio compulsions, but most of the results are things that everyone already knows. For example, recent studies have shown that frequent exposure to a song increases the likelihood that it will get stuck in your head. Also, if the tone of the music corresponds to your mood, that might make it continue going through your head until your mood changes. Earworms/ psychaudio compulsions can be triggered either by hearing the song or by encountering anything that you psychologically associate with the song.

What I find more interesting is the question of why some people are more prone to this phenomenon than others. I know that everyone (Or, according to actual scientific research, about 98% of people) get songs going through their head, but apparently it is a less frequent occurrence for some people than for others. Surveys have shown that musicians are more susceptible to earworms/psychaudio compulsions than people who aren’t musicians, and women tend to have them more than men do. Not surprisingly, people who have OCD also are particularly prone to having songs going through their head. It’s also associated with above average intelligence, which is my favorite explanation.

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