Imagine just can’t get enough of this song

Imagine you’re listening to your favorite song; you hit repeat multiple times because you just can’t get enough of this song and are now dealing with the consequences of having the song stuck in your head. Why does this happen though and how does it occur. Experts say they are earworms. No, they’re not parasites crawling through your brain laying musical eggs in your brain, but they are a parasitic in a sense that they get lodged in your head and cause a “cognitive itch” or “brain itch”. This, in particular, happens when the brain feels the need to fill in the gap’s of a song’s rhythm and assign this song as an unaccomplished task. 
When we listen to a song, it triggers a part of the brain known as the Auditory cortex. “Researchers at Dartmouth University found that when they played a part of a familiar song to the subjects, the participants’ auditory cortex automatically filled in the rest (” In other words, their brains kept “singing” long after the song had ended. In this study, they “surveyed three thousand people and asked them what songs they most frequently experienced the earworms. From this, they were able to compile a list of songs to have this effect and were mainly presented as pop music from 2010-2013 (
 The top songs were: 1.) Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
                                  2.) Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue
                                  3.) Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
                                  4.) Somebody That I Used To know by Gotye
                                  5.) Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5
                                  6.) California Gurls by Katy Perry
                                  7.) Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
                                  8.) Poker Face by Lady Gaga
                                  9.) Single Ladies by Beyonce
                                10.) Rolling In The Deep by Adele
Once the list was created, they made a comparable set of one hundred tunes that were not marked as earworm songs by the survey participants. The conductor of this study said, “We made sure our non-earworm tunes were by similar artists and had achieved similar popularity, as measured by the UK charts since we know that recent hearing and familiarity with a song can have an influence on whether it becomes an earworm (” Finally, they compared them in different features including things like their pitch range, interval content, and rhythmic variability. The three things that come to play when finding an earworm song is tempo, Generic Melodic shapes, and unusual interval patterns. From the known earworm songs, the tempo tended to be faster than non-earworm songs. “The idea that our brain likes to throw upbeat tunes at us more often than slow tunes could be due to the relationship between movement and earworms. Along with that many people get earworms when engaging in periodic movements like brushing our teeth, walking, or running (” Earworm tunes also have a tendency to have more of a generic overall shape. One example of a very common “melodic contour is a rising pattern followed by a falling pattern.” Twinkle Twinkle Little star along with the chorus of Bad Romance have a generic melodic shape. By having a generic shape our brain is more likely to recall a song more easily and rehearse it in the mind. Finally with the song having unusual interval patterns incorporating larger leaps or an occasional bigger leap than is expected in “the average pop song.” The idea that earworm tunes need to be generally easy to remember in terms of melodic shape, but also contain some unique interval patterns. This could be due to the brain searching for a sort of “goldilocks” level of complexity in a melody. If the chosen music piece is not too simple but also not too complex your brain is more likely to remember and retain the given information.