Pop corn by Hot Butter, Baby Shark from PinkFong, etc… In two seconds, we have these songs in our head for the whole day.
It also works with more personal songs. The phenomenon is called by scientists the earworms, earworms. Nicolas Farrugia, researcher in cognitive neuroscience in Brest, at the Lab-Sticc laboratories, studied them, recovering the work of British colleagues who had compared 3,000 pieces considered to be heady.
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“The first characteristic: these pieces that stay in the head are often a little faster, with a tempo of 124 beats per minute against an average of around 115”he says.
“Another characteristic is having melodies that are quite generic and easy to remember, with a melody that starts going up and then goes down, for example, like the song Oh, I say to you, Mom : it goes up and down so it’s easy to predict”he explains.
“Another feature is jumps – gaps – in the melodies. It’s funny because that’s the case with Pop corn. This note an octave lower at the end of the melody: there are small intervals at the top, then after a jump towards this low note. And I think that’s maybe what makes this melody quite memorable.”he concludes.
The three elements to capture the listener are posed, but some are more sensitive to it than others. Nicolas Farrugia compared the shape, the anatomy of the brains of people more or less prone to this inconvenience.
“In terms of the auditory areas of the brain, the so-called temporal cortex, which is on the side, there were variations in the volume of the primary auditory cortex that were related to having more or less frequent music in the head.”Nicolas Farrugia, researcher in cognitive neuroscience
As for the triggers of “earworms”, sometimes there is not even a need to skip the melodies. “If I tell you ‘Public Bench’, it will trigger the Brassens melody in some people’s heads”, he laughs. We could have ended up worse.