If music gives you chills your brain might be special, research finds

Does music give you goosebumps?

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 08 November 2017 11:10 GMT

If listening to music gives you goosebumps, you’re not just in touch with your emotions, you might actually have a unique brain, research has found.

Scientists at the University of Southern California examined the brain scans of 20 students, half of whom had intense reactions to music and half didn’t.

After each participant listened to a piece of self-selected music, researchers compared the scans and found that those who reacted to songs in this heightened manner had a distinctive neurological structure.

People who experienced chills had a higher volume of neurological fibres which link their auditory cortex to the part of the brain that processes emotions.

“More fibres and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them,” explained Matthew Sachs, a co-author of the study.

As a result of these enhanced neurological communications, Sachs also concluded that people who get goosebumps upon listening to music may experience emotions at a more intense level than those who don’t, regardless of whether they're listening to a song or not.

Research assistant Alissa Der Sarkissian believes that her body completely changes when she listens to the song “Nude” by Radiohead, reports USC News.

“I sort of feel that my breathing is going with the song, my heart is beating slower and I’m feeling just more aware of the song — both the emotions of the song and my body’s response to it,” she said.

Sachs studies psychology and neuroscience at USC and believes that his preliminary findings could provoke further research which examine the effect that music has on the brain outside of the auditory cortex.

His findings come after a recent study conducted at the University of York in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen found that music could be crucial in helping people manage their emotions.

Neuroscientist Dr Hauke Egermann examined the responses of 20 participants to four different songs and found that listening to supposedly "sad" songs could actually boost someone's mood.

"These findings provide further evidence that music can form an important part of our overall mental wellbeing, helping us to regulate our mood," he said.

"In particular, we have shown that music can override the negative impact of feeling sad and actually allow us to enjoy this emotion in a safe environment.”

The "sad" song that participants listened to in Egermann's experiment was "9 Crimes" by Damian Rice.

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