Thursday, May 27, 2010

The happy bird catches the earworm

Most people have had the experience, at one time or another, of getting a piece of music stuck in their head. 'Ear worms,' as they are known, are a relatively under-researched phenomenon but Andrea McNally-Gagnon from the University of Montreal has been looking into them. She asked French-speaking Internet users to rank 100 songs in terms of their ability to get stuck in one's head and you can find the top 25 at
She also asked 18 musicians and 18 non-musicians to hum and record their earworms and note their emotional state before and after. The study found that earworms lasted longer in musicians than non-musicians. They tended to occur when the participants were in a positive emotional state and keeping busy with non-intellectual activities such as walking. Not surprisingly musicians could recall songs better than non-musicians but both groups were able to 'replay' songs with a remarkable degree of accuracy.

You can find out more about this research at

No comments: