Science: solving first world problems one expensive study after another …

Tired of succumbing to the onslaught of shitty songs played day after day, minute after minute, only to get them stuck inside of perpetual thought, playing on loops until the melody drives you absolutely mad? That’s called an “earworm” — and researchers think they’ve found a way to get rid of the annoyance with a simple life hack.

A new study from the University of Reading claims something as simple as chewing gum can have great effects on the brain’s ability to process. The report titled, “Want to block earworms from conscious awareness? B(u)y gum!,” suggests chewing gum actually uses the same auditory mechanism the brain does when it wants to internally replay another disastrous Taylor Swift song for the bazillionth time.

So rather than trying to ignore the song (which we all know is virtually worthless and often makes matters worse), chewing gum will hack the brain and directs it to focus on that action instead, thereby cracking the prevalence of the tune in your thoughts. 

The experiment was directed with three groups: One control group (who didn’t do anything), another one tapping to try and distract the brain, and the other chewing the gum. What the study found is that distracting the brain with tapping helps the recurrence of annoying songs, too, but not near as much as it did the chewing group.

And while getting a stuck song out of the heads of privileged earth-walkers may not seem like an immediate cause for humanity, the report aligns with other areas of study that have sought ways in which chewing gum (or any like substance) can help.

“Studies like this one out of Cardiff University in the UK examined gum’s potential across multiple areas: learning, mood, memory and intelligence,” says Forbes writer David DiSalvo. “The findings in this case were that both alertness and intellectual performance were increased in gum-chewing subjects, while memory showed no significant improvements.”

Some areas of memory can also be boosted with the help of a little chew-time before tests. A 2011 study found there was improved performance from subjects who noshed versus those who didn’t. Doing so increases both heart rate and blood pressure, both helpful in directing one’s way through cognitive tests. The same study, however, reveals the benefits all but disappear if someone chews through the test; so spitting it out beforehand is suggested.

So the next time Pitbull or Katy Perry auditorily prance themselves deep into the layers of your “need-to-get-shit-done” consciousness— remember to grab a stick of gum and brain-hack your way back to sanity.