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  • Whether you're cold, scared or listening to some great music, you've likely

  • experienced goosebumps at some point in your life. But have you ever wondered why

  • this strange change takes over your body? Named after the way poultry looks

  • when plucked, goosebumps are a fairly useless trait in humans which have been passed

  • on by our ancestors. Each hair actually has a tiny muscle attached to it called

  • the erector-pili muscles and when these muscles contract the hair stands up on

  • end. This contraction creates a shallow depression around the hair causing the

  • surrounding area to protrude. And it's the stress hormone adrenaline which

  • triggers this physiological change to occur. So what triggers adrenaline? For

  • one being cold, in animals with much more hair on their body this response helps

  • them to stay warm. The standing hair is able to trap more air and thermal

  • regulate it ultimately providing an insulated barrier. Apart from this

  • adrenaline is also triggered under stressful situations leading to the

  • "fight or flight" response, like when you're scared. Cats are a perfect example,

  • if you give them a spook their hair shoots up on end.

  • This involuntary evolutionary response allows animals to appear bigger and

  • more intimidating. But why music has the ability to cause chills or "frisson" as

  • it's called is not fully understood. One interesting theory suggests that

  • elements of music such as sudden volume changes or unexpected unique sections

  • induce a sub-conscious fear response. The body loves predictability and so

  • anything surprising to the autonomic system stimulates an alarm. But this fear

  • quickly subsides as our brain realizes, "hey, it's just music". And this contrast in

  • experience causes the frisson and your goosebumps. There are other

  • theories as well, ultimately the brain is extremely complex and so a relationship

  • between music, emotion and physiological responses is difficult to decipher but

  • in science it's okay to say that we don't know...yet.

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Whether you're cold, scared or listening to some great music, you've likely

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B2 hair response adrenaline music physiological body

The Science of Goosebumps and Music Chills

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/04/10
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