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Whether it’s the chorus from Katy Perry‘s “California Girls,” or Lady Gaga‘s “Poker Face,” there’s nothing more annoying than having a catchy song on loop in your head. Thankfully, scientists in the UK have dedicated much-needed resources to working out how to finally make that freaking annoying melody just stop already. The answer is actually surprisingly simple: Chew gum.
Apparently chewing simply diverts attention away from a catchy melody or lyric. The part of the brain that involves hearing, remembering, and imagining tunes includes brain regions used for speech production. So, by forcing these areas of your brain to be active in chewing gum, they’re less able to recall the catchy tune.
To get these results, researchers asked participants to listen to popular music, including what has to be two of the catchiest songs on the planet: “Payphone” by Maroon 5 and “Play Hard” by David Guetta. For the next three minutes the participants had to note down whenever the song popped into their head. During this time some participants chewed gum, or tapped their finger, or did neither. Those who chewed gum “heard” the song in their head a third less often than the others.
So you might want to get a pack of gum ready before you hit play on this track. Consider yourself warned. And if you want to get your nerd on, you can read the study paper for a detailed breakdown of the science here.