Deaf people get catchy tunes

Counselor - I can't get these melodies out of my head

I can't get these melodies out of my head

Songs or melodies often haunt me in my head. And often I sing along with them inside. This can be repeated many times a day. Even if I consciously say “stop, I don't want this”, it starts again after a few minutes. The uncomfortable situation worries me a lot. How do I get the music out of my head?

When melodies get stuck in the head, people like to speak of "catchy tunes". These actually exist in nature. They are insects with the biological name Dermaptera. The German name "earwig" is misleading, since the harmless hymenoptera are neither worms nor crawl into human ears. The catchy tunes you talk about are not in your ear, but in your brain and have to do with memory.

Stored involuntarily The German musicologist Jan Hemming describes the phenomenon as follows: “The first step is the involuntary storage of music in long-term memory. In the second step, this memory content is called up again involuntarily and leads to an auditory imagination, which is often associated with the practice of accompanying the "earwig" by singing, humming, whistling or knocking along. 'Earwigs' often arise in everyday situations, in idle or waiting phases or in situations where music is actually expected. "

According to surveys, almost everyone is familiar with the phenomenon. The formation of a catchy tune can be seen as the brain's counter-strategy against such idle phases. Whether such a catchy tune passes into long-term memory also has to do with the assessment. If it is rated as extremely positive or extremely negative, the likelihood of remembering increases.

According to your question, you practice both at the same time: You support the remembrance by singing along within. Then try to forget the melody on purpose. As described, you cannot directly approach the phenomenon with will. Saying “stop” is a first step, but what do you do then? Do you listen to yourself to see if the melody is gone? The brain goes into an idle phase again ... you know the rest of it.

According to studies, the most successful counter-strategy is to actively occupy consciousness with other things. This can be the conscious reminder of a different tune, filling out the tax return, reading a demanding text and other things. Chewing gum can also help. Because this prevents active humming.


Another strategy is: disregard. According to an English study, people who tried to actively forget the melody had it in their ears for an average of 40 minutes. Those who let the catchy tune be, lost it after 22 minutes. As you can see, actively dealing with the catchy tune - by humming along or cursing - is more likely to actually pinch itself into your eardrum. If, on the other hand, you don't take care of it or are actively engaged in something else, he'll get bored and crawl back out of your ear.

* Dr. phil. Josef Jung is federally certified. recognized psychotherapist,