When you get a song stuck in your head

CLEVELAND CLINIC - We've all been there, a catchy song seems to repeat over and over in our heads.

According to experts, 98% of us get stuck on a song, known as an earworm. Scott Bea is a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic and says some people may be more prone to earworms than others.

"Folks that are diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, or who have obsessive thinking styles, probably a little more commonly have this phenomenon. They tend to go over thoughts a little bit more, over and over in their heads," says Dr. Bae.

Dr. Bea says people who are exposed to music a lot, like musicians, may also be more likely to get a sticky song stuck in their heads.

He says men and women seem to experience earworms equally as often, but women tend to stay with the song longer and find it more irritating. Recent research suggests that songs with intervals that jump up and down are more likely to get stuck in someone's head.

More research is needed to determine exactly what's happening in the brain when earworms take hold, but Dr. Bea says repetition is often related to stress.

"One thing we know in psychology is that anything that gets repeated probably has some tension reduction characteristic to it, so even a sticky song might be capturing our attention so we're not attending to other elements in our lives that might produce more tension and stress," says Dr. Bea.

For folks who can't seem to get a song out of their heads, Dr. Bea suggests doing a brain teaser puzzle or reading a novel. He says chewing gum or listening to the song in its entirety, instead of just the catchy part, may help too.