In Brief: The Quirky Brain: Why songs get "stuck" in people's heads

Published: May, 2010

Most people have experienced this phenomenon at one point or another: a mental replaying of a catchy tune, seemingly for no reason. The tunes that get stuck in people's heads are often advertising jingles, television theme songs, pop songs, and children's songs.

In scientific literature and in the lay press, the phenomenon goes by many names: sticky music, stuck songs, involuntary musical imagery, cognitive itch, mental concert, and ohrwurm (translated literally as "earworm").

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