How do I get rid of catchy tunes

How to get a catchy tune out of your head

"Last Christmas I gave you my heart ..." - Does a Christmas song sit deep in your brain? Neurobiologist Dr. Henning Beck explains how you can get rid of the stubborn loop again

The Christmas season brings acoustic hardship every year: Christmas pop songs that recur in an annual loop. As if “Last Christmas” from Wham! or Chris Rea's “Driving Home For Christmas” oppose the fast-paced music industry, these well-known music fossils block precious airtime on the radio just in time for the festival. Regardless of whether you find the songs annoying or good, they go into your ear - and stay there persistently.

But what does such a catchy tune do in the brain? And much more important: How do you get it out of there? For the first time, neuroanatomists have now been able to show that the brains of people who are susceptible to catchy tunes actually have special characteristics. In the study that was carried out, the participants were first asked about their earwig experiences and then examined their brains in an MRI scanner for abnormalities.

The less brains, the easier it is for us to think of “Last Christmas”

Lo and behold: the more you experience catchy tunes, the thinner the cerebral cortex is in two important auditory regions of the brain, the right Heschl’s transverse turn and the right lower frontal turn. The latter is also responsible, among other things, for suppressing musical sensations. The less oppression (through a thinner cerebral cortex), the more catchy tunes. Why other brain regions are also smaller in earwig-affine people, however, is not yet understandable. Obviously, however, the following applies: the less brain (at least in Heschl’s cross winding), the easier it is for us to think of “Last Christmas”.

But how do you get rid of a catchy tune? Another study developed an interesting therapy for this: chewing gum. In a specific experiment, the test participants were supposed to hear the latest pop songs by David Guetta and Maroon 5. This is of course tough, which is why there were only 98 more or less “volunteers” for the study. While one group just listened to the songs, the other was allowed to chew gum.

And the more she did this, the less often the songs became catchy tunes. Even if the catchy tune came up later, it could be suppressed by chewing gum. The explanation: Apparently, some brain regions are not only involved in the creation of earwigs, but also in articulation and thus the movement of the jaw at the same time. Under the double burden of chewing and listening to the earwigs, the song slowly disappears in your head.

My tip against annoying Christmas songs: Just chew a piece of chewing gum (or optionally a gingerbread). Incidentally, this has a very practical side effect: A full mouth also helps against involuntary singing along with catchy songs.