If You Get Goosebumps From Music, Your Brain Is Different

I think if you’re part of the music business in any way, one of the reasons is that music excites you. In some cases it excites you so much that it gives you goosebumps while listening. Believe it or not, that doesn’t happen to everybody, and according to a recent Harvard study, it means that your brain is structured differently.

First of all, Goosebumps¬†are the bumps on a person’s skin at the base of body hairs that involuntarily develop when a person is cold or experiences strong emotions such as fear, euphoria or sexual arousal. The term comes from the fact that when a goose’s feathers are plucked, its skin has protrusions where the feathers were, which looks similar to what humans get. It’s not clear why the goose was chosen to describe this phenomena since the same things happen with all birds.

No one yet knows exactly why we get goosebumps when we’re not cold, but we do know that it can be triggered from sensory perceptions other than music as well, and even by recalling a particular memory. We tend to notice it most when they comes from an experience that we thoroughly enjoy.

That said, the study found that when compared to people who claimed never to have gotten goosebumps before, those that experienced the phenomena regularly had denser fiber volumes that link auditory cortex with emotion processing areas. That means that there was a better interaction between the two regions.

Intensity of lyrics, rising pitch, harmonic intervals and crowd singing were found to be key factors in giving people goosebumps. Time of day also had something to do with it, with the condition occurring mostly after 5PM (the optimum time was 6:37).

Rock music was the genre that caused the most goosebumps (31%), followed by pop (29%), Indie (7%), House tunes (6%) and classical symphonies (5%).

The next time goosebumps happen to you, take notice what triggered them and see if you can replicate the experience.


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