Thursday, March 11, 2010

La, La, La, La La….


My husband often wakes up with an earworm.

No, it’s not a larvae or a bug or any kind of insect at all.

Earworm is the term used for “ the most common type of what’s called “involuntary imagery,” sounds, pictures, smells, and even tastes that repeatedly come to mind unbidden.”

Having earworms can also be described as “getting a song stuck in your head”.

We’ve all done it.

…Walked around with “Zippity-Do-Da” or “Achey Breaky Heart, or the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies running over and over in our brains.

Sometimes it gets stuck there all day- appearing as you awake and following you through lunch and dinner and until sleep finally stops that repetitive lyrical madness.

James Kellaris, a professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati has done years of research to learn more about a theory of his -known as “cognitive itch.” According to Kellaris, “certain pieces of music may have properties that excite an abnormal reaction in the brain” — in other words, your brain detects something extraordinary or unusual about the music that compels attention.

Your brain tries to process the itch by repeating it, which only makes things worse — like itchy skin.

Kellaris finds the music most likely to cause an earworm has one or more of three key qualities: repetitiveness, simplicity, and what he calls incongruity, often an unexpected rhythmic variation.

A 2003 study by Kellaris showed that nearly 98 percent of people experienced earworms, usually involving sung rather than instrumental tunes.

While women and men experienced earworms equally often, women had to put up with them for longer and were more likely to be peeved.

Kellaris’s research also suggests that musicians and those inclined to worry are particularly susceptible to worm attacks.

My husband’s ear worms would be okay except for the fact he sings them out loud- and then I catch them-

and then, there we are…

… drinking coffee and singing “God Bless America” or “Polly-Wolly-Doodle All The Day”.

Like a couple of losers.

With giant, annoying earworms.

Studies show you can’t do much about it.

Try concentrating on another song, or seek some type of distraction.

Or just let it worm it’s way out.

That’s what I’m hoping will happen today.

That this rock and roll earworm beating “In-a-goda-da-vida” inside my brain will finally give up and go elsewhere.

But I suppose it’s better than last weeks earworm:

“I’m so pretty,

Oh, so pretty,

I feel pretty and witty and bright…

I feel dizzy,
I feel sunny,
I feel fizzy and funny and fine…”

And, I’ll let you in on a secret:

I caught that one from my husband.