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Medical Earworm songs

  1. Oct 25, 2005 #1
    According to wikipedia, earworm, a literal translation of the German Ohrwurm, is a term for a song stuck in one's head, particularly an annoying one. Use of the English translation was introduced by James Kellaris, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati. His studies appeared to demonstrate that different people have varying susceptibilities to earworms, but that almost everybody has been afflicted at some time or another.

    So, earworm is a word for a SONG stuck in one's head.

    Is there a word for a thought, ANY thought, stuck in one's head?

    Or, was ALL thought an "earworm"?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2005 #2


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    We had a thread here recently about earworms, perhaps you'd be interested in it: Why do people get songs "stuck" in their heads?

    I don't know of an analogous word used to refer to any kind of thought one gets stuck in one's head. Perhaps there has been a word coined for such a thing in the literature on OCD?
  4. Oct 25, 2005 #3
    What does "OCD" mean?

  5. Oct 25, 2005 #4


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  6. Oct 25, 2005 #5


  7. Oct 25, 2005 #6
    Using the same "pattern" for naming, wouldn't such a thought be a "brainworm"?

    Furthermore, it sounds like what you describe is slightly different than a "meme".
  8. Oct 25, 2005 #7
    Good one. :smile:

    Lets go with that.

    So it shall be: ALL thoughts were brainworms.

  9. Oct 25, 2005 #8
    A good song to get stuck in your head is Maggotbrain by Funkadelic. :uhh:
  10. Oct 26, 2005 #9


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    Or Eruption, by Van Halen.
  11. Oct 27, 2005 #10


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    That's not really using the same pattern. The ears are what we use to sense aural information in the world, but they are not the mechanisms by which we actually, consciously experience sound. Earworms don't have anything to do with ears per se; they represent a repetitive kind of neural activity, probably in the temporal lobes.

    Memes are not really the same sort of thing. Certainly an earworm could be considered a kind of meme, but the vast majority of things that could be considered memes do not have the property of being subjectively experienced in a repetitive and semi-uncontrollable manner.
  12. Oct 27, 2005 #11
    I think the important commonality between "earworm" and "brainworm" is the conduit through which one is infected by the "worm". Songs stuck in one's mind must first be heard with the ears, and concepts/ideas stuck in one's mind must first be "thought" with the brain. Earworms have quite alot to do with ears, although certainly, they aren't "caused" by one's ears.
    Perhaps I was ambiguous in the statement you're responding to. What I was referring to when I said to Jimmie - "what you describe..." - was his statement, "Is there a word for a thought, ANY thought, stuck in one's head?" Sounds like you thought I was comparing a meme to an earworm, but I was comparing it to a brainworm.

    Jimmie, glad you like the term.
  13. Oct 31, 2005 #12
    I think it's important not to get caught up in thinking about any of this in erroneous humorous or poetic terms. There is no "worm" and no "infection". Nor are songs "stuck" in one's head. All these things are a manner of speaking only.

    The pattern of thinking whereby someone decided to call this phenomenon an "earworm" may be of some interest in and of itself, but exploration of that is essentially an excercize in analyzing humor and would probably best be done in a different forum.
  14. Oct 31, 2005 #13
    There is no "worm", eh?
    There is no "infection", eh?
    There is no "stuck", eh?

    After hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", many people "hear" the song again and again in their mind. These people rarely attempt to hear the song, it just "happens". If you don't like "poetic" terms, that's your deal. I myself find the loose metaphor an aid in describing what's happening. The neurological specifics seem to be "unimportant" with respect to the thread author's inquiry. The phenomena described by abstract terms like "brainworm" and "earworm" can be discussed without immersing oneself in accurate terminology.

    Anyway, philosophy often inspires poetic language. But you had to know that already.
  15. Nov 5, 2005 #14
    There are none of those, that's right.
    None of which has anything to do with authentic worms, viruses, or friction.
    I like them in poetry, when appropriately inserted in prose setting, and I understand their usefullness in describing the quality of a subjective experience. Despite the casualness of the OP, this forum is Mind And Brain Sciences.
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