Is there anything more annoying than getting a song you hate stuck in your head?
The answer is no. No, there is not.
Thankfully, scientists with nothing better to do have discovered a surprisingly simple trick to banish the offending tune: Chew a stick of gum.
A study conducted by psychologists at the University of Reading found that chewing can help to change the focus and direction of one's thoughts.
The researchers gathered 98 volunteers and had them listen to a series of catchy pop songs.
The participants were divided into three groups: One group chewed gum, one tapped their finger on the table and one did nothing.
After listening to the song, each group was given a 3-minute silent period, during which they were directed to press a button if the song popped back into their heads.
Of the three groups, the gum-chewing group pressed the button the least, by about 33 percent.
According to researcher Dr. Phil Beaman, it all has to do with the way the brain processes information.
Brain regions involved in hearing, remembering, and imagining tunes include not only the auditory cortex but also regions more usually associated with speech production. By forcing these regions to be active in chewing the gum, they were less available to support the involuntary generation or recollection of an earworm.
The researchers hope their findings may help pave the way for treatment of psychological disorders like OCD, which are characterized by uncontrollable thoughts.
For now, I'm just grateful there's finally an antidote to the endless "I Don't F*ck With You" loop playing in my head.