Do you get goosebumps when you listen to music? You have a special brain!

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Elia Tabuenca García
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A brain imaging study reveals why some people sometimes feel chills when listening to certain songs.

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A brain imaging study reveals why some people sometimes feel chills when listening to certain songs.

Having the chills and getting excited while listening to a particular music is a sign of a fine brain. The fact that during some songs or while listening to your playlist you get goosebumps is all a matter of brain nerve fibers: in "more sensitive" people and with very pleasant music, the auditory system joins the emotion systems and brain reward.

This is supported by research published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience of Oxford Academic Press and conducted by Matthew Sachs, PhD student at the University of Southern California, in collaboration with other researchers at Harvard University and Wesleyan University, Connecticut, according to all of which is due to the fact that there are many more fibers joining two particular brain regions.

"The results obtained provide both scientific and philosophical information on the evolutionary origins of human aesthetics, in particular music, perhaps one of the reasons why music is a culturally indispensable artifact because it addresses directly through an ear canal to the centers of emotional processing and of the human brain, ”explain the researchers.

What does it mean? That if music has a deep emotional response in some people, it is their special brains.

A systematic review

The scholars involved a sample of twenty students selected online from over 200 candidates. They then selected 10 subjects who were prone to shivering at their favorite song and 10 who had never experienced this sensation.

The participants were then subjected to some tests to analyze their physiological reactions in response to their favorite songs: from here it emerged that only half of the participants had had goosebumps, even though they were music lovers. Those volunteers later underwent brain scans (diffusion tensor imaging, DTI), which showed that individuals who were shivering with music had particular brain structures. That is, they would have a greater number of neural connections between the auditory cortex and the areas that process emotions. This means that in their case the auditory cortex and the areas used for emotions communicate better.

In short, who presented goosebumps from music more nerve fibers that from the auditory cortex, indispensable for listening, led to two other regions: the anterior insular cortex, involved in feelings, and the medial prefrontal cortex, which monitors emotions by assigning them a value.

It would therefore be the brain connectivity to determine the emotional impact and physiological involvement of some songs: people who feel the chills have stronger connections between the auditory system of the brain and the areas related to emotions.

"It is difficult to say whether this ability is learned over time or whether these people naturally have more brain fibers," the scholars conclude. And do you get goosebumps listening to music? On the notes of which song? 

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