In the past 72 hours, I have listened to the Drake song “Come Thru” over 50 times. I find myself singing it when I’m just wandering around, and I can listen to it on repeat without feeling bored. There’s something about the transition in the middle, the melody, the sound of the singer’s voice that’s just so enchanting. I can’t get enough. And yet, when I pause to reflect, I realize I have no idea why this song is so appealing.

It could be that the song is what some researchers call an “earworm,” a piece of music so catchy it repeats in your brain when you’re no longer listening to it. The term is a literal translation from the German Ohrwurm, and it may remind you of the horrible creatures from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan that literally worm their way into your brain via your ears. Earworms have been the subject of scientific study since the 1980s and are—for curious music lovers—a topic of continual fascination. There’s even a DJ Earworm, who makes mash-up mixes of the catchiest pop tunes every year.

Georgia Floridou

Georgia Floridou

We’ve invited Georgia Floridou, a Ph.D. student at Goldsmiths, University of London, to be our Hippo expert on earworms for the next installment of our Ask Me Anything. Floridou obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. In addition, she obtained a Master’s degree in a program focused on Music, Mind, and Brain from Goldsmiths. Her research now explores what she calls “the everyday conditions and cognitive mechanisms of involuntary musical imagery”—that is, she studies how music affects the brain (and co-published a paper on this work alongside scholars Victoria Williamson and Daniel Müllensiefen).

If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t get a commercial jingle out of your head, or why you find yourself singing along to pop songs you dislike, or anything else about the relationship between music and the mind, Hippo’s Ask Me Anything is your chance to put those questions in front of a recognized expert in this exciting field. (I, for one, want to find out why I can’t get enough of the sweet, soulful sounds of Drake.)

As a reminder—or an introduction for those of you new to the series—here’s how our Ask Me Anything works:


  • This post is our open call for questions directed to the expert (in this case, Georgia Floridou).
  • You can submit your questions—using the form below—until Monday of this week.
  • We will then forward a selection of your questions to the expert.
  • The answers will run the following Monday.

We encourage you to share this campaign—and your questions!—via email and social media. Not only can it be an engaging discussion about a scientific topic, it’s also a chance to find out if your friends experience music the same way you do. As with last time, we have a teaser question to get you started:

I wake up many mornings with a song in my head. Why does this happen? Do the songs tell me something about my personality or is it purely random?” – Michelle M., West Hartford, CT, USA

[This AMA is now closed. Please see the winning questions here.]

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi via flickr