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Dave’s Diary: How DID That Song Get Stuck in Your Head?

I woke up the other day with a song stuck in my head.  It was a tune from one of the Gator’s (my four year old daughter) favorite DVDs.  It got me to thinking –as a way to avoid the song–as to how it happens that songs “get stuck” in the first place.  The answer comes from Western Washington University by way of the NY Times.

David Becker/Getty Images

A recent study finds that songs we like are the most likely to get stuck in our heads. Head researcher Ira Hyman Jr. and his colleagues exposed subjects to popular songs while asking them to complete various tasks. Researchers found that songs usually get stuck in a person’s head when they are doing a task that is either too difficult, or too easy.

Difficult tasks cause the mind to wander, while easy thoughts create a mental opening for repetitive thoughts . The research suggests we’re most likely to get a song we like stuck in our heads, and Hyman says to get a song un-stuck you should do something that engages the auditory and verbal components of your memory, such as reading a good book or watching a favorite show …. Or chasing you four year old all over the house to find the remote!

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