WTOP (Washington, DC): How Earworms Crawl Into Your Head

by Neal Augenstein

WASHINGTON - Warning: this story contains songs you can't get out of your head.

Earworms - derived from the German Ohr (ear)+Wurm (worm) are songs that somehow crawl into your brain, where they are replayed ad nauseum.

"For many people, earworms are pretty annoying," says Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, associate professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at University of Arkansas, and author of On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind.

Margulis says a recent study shows more than 90 percent of participants reported being seized by an earworm in the past week, and a quarter of those people said they had earworms several times a day.

The question is, "Why?"

"We don't really have control over what gets stuck in there," says Margulis. "It might be something we love, it might be something really annoying."