What is an "involuntary musical image": 3 ways to get rid of a song stuck in your head

By Jurassic JennJun 15, 2024 20:05 PMPsychology
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What is an "involuntary musical image"
What is an ''involuntary musical image''. Source: Pixabay

The human mind can generate a variety of images in any format. For example, in audio mode, we most often hear intrusive melodies that have been aptly defined as "auditory worms."

Huff Post reports: "Science calls this phenomenon involuntary musical imagery, or IMNI." And although it's not dangerous and doesn't generally affect our daily lives, you have to admit that it's strange to feel like a 'record player' with a song you heard the day before stuck in it."

In this article, we'll tell you why this happens and whether it's possible to get rid of an annoying tune.

How do "auditory worms" come to us?

A study of the nature of involuntary musical images has shown that although science cannot currently determine exactly why auditory worms appear, scientists are confident in naming the causes of their appearance. These are the triggers: "boredom", "repetition", and "familiarity".

Amber Schubert, a professor at the University of New South Wales, explained: "Our brains are made up of a huge complex network of neurons that store information. And when the mind wanders freely, it can unwittingly stumble upon a song encoded with rhythmic repetition."

This correlates with the results of another study that showed that the most popular "auditory worms" have a "habit" of following "melodic contours" often found in pop music.

Think of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, for example, and compare it to another song mentioned in the study, Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5. They both follow similar patterns, and both are highly anchored in the brain.

Although anyone can be "infected" with auditory worms, experiments have confirmed that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are more susceptible to this phenomenon. They perceive them not as background noise, but as exhausting repetition, as it mimics the behavior of obsessive thoughts inherent in this syndrome.

How to get rid of "auditory worms"?

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no specific way to "throw away" a song that is stuck in your head. What can you do in this case?

First of all, don't try to get rid of the melody by force of will. This will only aggravate the situation and force your brain to play it over and over again

Instead, try listening to another one or the one that's stuck in your head, but only until the end. This should work, as it is believed that "auditory worms" occur when you memorize only part of a song. So, listening to the entire track can solve this problem.

After all, it's said that an ordinary piece of chewing gum is said to effectively switch our minds.

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