If listening to music gives you goosebumps then you probably have a very special brain, according to a new research study.

The scientific name for such an emotional reaction to sound has been narrowed down to a ‘frisson’, a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill.

Scientists at the University of Southern California took to the task of examining 20 students, 10 of which admitted to experiencing the aforementioned feelings in relation to music and 10 that did not. Among his results, co-founder of the research Matthew Sachs came to the conclusion that the people with the explained reaction to music have “higher-order cognition”.

“More fibres and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them,” explained Sachs.

Each person involved in the study picked out songs of their choice, researchers then compared the scanned results to discover that those who reacted in a heightened manner had a “distinctive neurological structure.”

When the volume was turned louder, many who experience the ‘goosebumps’ sensation are said to have neurological fibres linking to their auditory cortex to the part of the brain that processes emotions.

Sachs also argues that people who experience ‘frisson’ have stronger and more intense emotions: “the idea being that more fibres and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them,” he writes in the Oxford Academic. 

To further enhance Sachs’ study, Dr Alissa Der Sarkissian claims that when the song ‘Nude’ by Radiohead is played, her body changes.

“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,” said Der Sarkissian, a research assistant at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, based at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

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