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Four ways to shake off an earworm


Listen to the whole song: A 2014 study found that one of the most effective behaviours is listening to the whole tune; that way the unwanted snippet gets overridden, in most cases. It’s also possible that by listening to the same tune, you just made it worse.

Let It Be: “Don’t try too hard to break the loop,” says music therapist and counsellor Roshan Mansukhani. “This can have the opposite effect, making the song harder to shake off.” Instead, sit in silence and concentrate on your breathing. A short bout of forced silence can help break the loop.

Distract yourself: Listening to other music is effective, so is watching TV or chatting – anything that gives your brain cognitive engagement or activity to engage with that is not the earworm. Scullin told Wknd he likes to use writing as a distraction, “even writing down worries or writing out a to-do list”.

Chew gum: A 2015 study by researchers at the University of Reading, UK, found that those who chewed gum after hearing catchy songs were thinking less about the music than they would have otherwise. The visceral sensation was enough to ensure the song left as soon as it had ended.

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