The Song That’s Stuck in Your Head

by Laura Overdeck

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? It can be pretty annoying, even if you like the song. This is called an “earworm,” and scientists are trying to find out why this happens to us. They found that everyone gets different songs stuck in their heads – but all these songs are simple, and play the same notes over and over. Sometimes your brain repeats one line – and sometimes the song plays faster than in real life. How much faster? Let’s see if we can count out the beat.

Wee ones: Sing a line of your favorite song. How many words did you sing? Count them out with a grown-up!

Little kids: Sing a line from another song. Did you sing the same note again at any point? How many times?  Bonus: If a song sings “I love you” 3 times in a row, how many words is that in total?

Big kids: If a song plays in your head every half-hour starting at 3:00 pm, what number round do you start hearing at 7:00 pm?  Bonus: If your favorite song is 3 minutes long, but when stuck in your head it takes only 2 minutes 34 seconds, how much faster does the song play in your head?

Answers:
Wee ones: Different for everyone…count out the words!

Little kids: Again, different for everyone…see if you can hear the same high or low note more than once.  Bonus: 9 words.

Big kids: The 9th round.  Bonus: 26 seconds faster.

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