Why Do Some Songs Stick in Our Heads?

16:13 minutes

Certain tunes are more than just appealing—they seem to get “stuck” in our minds. Song fragments that we can’t stop humming are called “earworms.” Musical psychologist Elizabeth Margulis describes what might cause these tenacious tunes and why repetition in music is so catchy. (For more on earworms, check out this SciFri article.)

Segment Guests

Elizabeth Margulis

Elizabeth Margulis is author of On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind (Oxford University Press, 2013), and a music professor and director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is Science Friday’s associate producer. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.

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Why Do Songs Get Stuck in Our Heads?

Why some tunes lodge in our brains isn't so clear. Here are a few theories.

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