What is an earworm?

‘Earworm’ is the common name for the experience of having music in your head, without consciously recalling it. The scientific name for it is ‘Involuntary Musical Imagery’ (INMI). It is a very common phenomenon and yet there is still a lot we don’t know about it. The music in your head may loop or be repeated, the experience may be pleasant or annoying, it may be from a piece you know and/or heard recently, or something new.

To find out more about why a song gets stuck in our head click on the Spotify widget where can listen to Dr Filippidi at the Canadian podcast 'Tai Asks Why', or to the Youtube videos to watch her explaining her research. 



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Dr Ioanna Filippidi

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Dr Michelle Phillips

Very similar brain activity in music listening and musical imagery. (Zatorre & Halpern, 2005)

Involuntary Musical Imagery (Liikkanen, 2008), N= 12.420. 91.7% experiences musical imagery at least once a week

Occurrence categories: Recent exposure, Memory triggers, Affective/ low attention states (Williamson et al, 2011)

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