Curing earworms with anagrams

26 March 2013

An earworm is the name for a song that gets stuck in your head, that you may find yourself – against your will – humming and singing for days.


In yet another marvelous convergence of science and music researchers at Western Washington University claim you can rid yourself of an earworm by solving anagrams* (that is, rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to form another word or phrase). And if that doesn’t work you can just read a book.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

This can force the intrusive music out of your working memory, allowing it to  be replaced by other, more amenable, thoughts.

But the researchers warn against trying anything too difficult because this can allow the melodies to wiggle their way back into your consciousness

For those unwilling to carry around a book of anagrams, a good novel can do the trick.

Me, I’m always getting Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” in my head. But doing an anagram of “dooby dooby doo” is pretty limiting; it doesn’t get much better than “Yo, Do Booby, Dodo”.

*Exciting finding: Google still has a sense of humour.


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