Do you have an obnoxiously catchy song lyric stuck on repeat in your brain? New research suggests that the secret to getting rid of these “earworms” may be as simple as chewing a stick of gum…
How does it work? Reading psychologist Dr. Phil Beaman explained that chewing gum co-opts some of the brain’s regions involved in earworms.
“Brain regions involved in hearing, remembering and imagining tunes include not only the auditory cortex but also regions more usually associated with speech production,” Beaman told The Huffington Post in an email. “By forcing these regions to be active in chewing the gum, they were less available to support the involuntary generation or recollection of an earworm.”
Beyond earworms, Beaman hopes that the research may pave the way for methods of managing more debilitating invasive thoughts in people with psychiatric conditions.
“Interfering with our own ‘inner speech’ through a more sophisticated version of the gum-chewing approach may work more widely,” he said in a statement. “However, more research is needed to see whether this will help counter symptoms of obsessive-compulsive and similar disorders.” …
Unfortunately, TMJ patients like myself can’t chew gum. (And I really miss bubble gum.)