Earworm Project, Goldsmiths, University of London


Quoted from http://www.gold.ac.uk/music-mind-brain/earworm-project/:

Earworm Project, Goldsmiths, University of London

Earworm Project

Why do tunes get stuck in our heads?

The Music, Mind and Brain group is currently running a number of projects examining the nature and prevalence of earworms.  We are funded by the British Academy and our current projects run in partnership with 6Music (BBC Radio).

This page will be updated regularly with links for studies, findings, and summaries of research progress as the projects advance.

What are earworms?

The term earworm originally comes from a translation of the German word ‘Ohrwurm’. It refers to the experience of having a tune or a part of a tune stuck in your head. Often a person experiencing an earworm has no idea why a tune has popped into their head and has little control over how long it continues.

Earworms are a really common phenomenon: A recent poll suggested over 90% of the population experience them at least once a week, so it seems like having the odd earworm is perfectly normal. But 15% of people classified their earworms as  “disturbing” [1] and in a different study one third of the people described their earworms as “unpleasant” [2] – This means that although earworms are essentially harmless they can get in the way of what you are trying to do and can stop you from thinking straight.

Despite the prevalent nature of earworms and the potential impact they can have on our normal thought processes very little is known about what causes earworms, why they happen to some people more than others and why some tunes are more commonly heard as an earworm than others.

This is where our research comes in!

Our Projects

We are currently running a number of projects funded by the British Academy which aim to answer these questions. Details relevant to each of the studies, as they emerge, will be published below.

Project 1: What features do typical earworm music tunes have in common? – Are some tunes naturally more ‘sticky’ because of the way they are constructed?

Project 2: What do people who frequently experience earworms have in common? – Are musicians or people who love music more vulnerable? What about people with different personality types?

Project 3: What causes earworms? – Are some situations more ‘high risk’? What about the frequency of exposure? Can earworms have a purpose?

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About mostlyplastic
Love writing music, playing computer games, Creating videos, jogging

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