That Song You Can’t Get Out of Your Head Wants to Kill You.

We don’t choose the songs and tunes that loop around and around in our heads, ad nauseam, over and over again, sometimes a song so random we don’t even know why we thought of it. 

If we could choose, I certainly wouldn’t walk around the house hoping to be an Oscar Meyer wiener.

I wouldn’t have a Britney Spears tune in my head claiming, Oops! I did it again! nor would I have those children’s songs I play for my baby about an elephant balancing on a spider web.

There’s obviously a neurological explanation for why these tunes loop in our brain, a phenomenon that has been called Earworms, and it is a fact that we have no power to stop these worms from boring the same song over and over into our brains. 

We don’t choose the loops, but they have an effect on our behavior.  Yes, that is what I’m saying, the tunes that get stuck or looped in our brains influence our choices and behavior, definitely our thoughts.

If I’m going around the house all day wishing to be an Oscar Meyer wiener, that loop is going to influence my perceptions and ultimately some of the nuances involved with my decisions. In deciding what I want to eat that day, I might very well crave a hotdog, but because I’m an intelligent being and will not allow that song to influence me, I will choose instead tacos, not realizing that the taco choice has been determined by the loop in my head as well.  

Hot dog lead me to choose tacos, because in some unconscious neural connection, hotdogs is to Americana as tacos are to Mexicanidad, so in rejecting one my mind goes directly to what is coded in my network as the opposite.

If that Oscar Myer song hadn’t been in my head all day, I might very well have eaten a salad.

This is a form of priming,  a concept in psychology that shows how people can be made to act a particular way by giving them unconscious signals.  For example, if you give people a word test, and on that test the psychologists embed words that seem to be random but that have a pessimistic view of life, sadness, depression, and you give another group the same test but with words that were more positive, hopeful, happy, after the test is over, those who were given positive words behaved differently from those who had been given negative words. 

The participants are influenced in their thoughts and choices, even when they don’t know it.

These song loops that play in our mind over and over again have the ability to prime our cognitive experience for that day.

I know this may sound crazy, and that’s OK, but priming is a fact –if you consider facts to be evidence, overwhelming evidence.

Say it was the Britney Spears song looping back over and over again in my head all throughout the morning and the afternoon and even into the evening, Oops, I did it again! 

I am statistically more likely to make daring choices that day than I otherwise would, because my brain keeps telling me, Oops! I did it again! 

What the heck, I might say to myself, Do it again! 

Maybe this is a good reason to avoid too many drinking songs, like Thurgood’s One bourbon, One scotch and One Beer.

With drinking songs looping around in my head over and over again all day long, you could guess what I am likely to do after a hard day work on my drive home, stop at the pub, a decision that I am not really making but that is programmed into me by this loop. 

I think I’ll leave it to the neuroscientists to figure out how the brain works it’s mechanism, but what I’m concerned with is one important question:

Who’s choosing the songs that get stuck in my head? 

It ain’t me.