A Simple Psychological Method for Removing Mentally Invasive Earworms

BrainCraft host Vanessa Hill explains the science behind earworms – the snippets of catchy songs that repeatedly and annoyingly get stuck in one’s head. Thankfully, she also offers a simple solution for removing this mentally invasive vermin. Using principles of the Zeigarnik effect, which states that incomplete tasks are remembered far more frequently than those that have been completed, Hill suggests playing the entire song either mentally or physically to close out the “task”.

Luckily, the Zeigarnik effect also gives us an idea of how to get a stuck songs out of your head: complete them. A lot of people do this intuitively. When a song is stuck in their heads, no matter how much they dislike it, they put the song on and listen to it from beginning to end. Research shows us there may be an easier way. If you can voluntarily play the end of the song in your head, you might be able to finally get it out of your brain.