Why Music Gives (Some Of) Us Goosebumps

I get the goosebumps from music quite often.  Do you?  Perhaps it's what drives my passion for music, after all it IS my job to play music and give a care about what I DO play on the radio. Well, surprisingly, the goosebump and music phenomenon is pretty rare, who knew?!

Recently, a student at Harvard University did a study of people who's hairs stand up for certain songs, and what he learned was pretty interesting.

The Harvard student's name is a local brainiac named Matthew Sachs. He wanted to discover how the goosebump reaction was triggered by music. He took 10 students who said that they did sometimes get chills from music and 10 who didn't and compared their brain scans.

From those brain scans, he discovered that those of us who get a physical reaction (like the chills) from music actually have a difference in brain structure. I knew I had a special brain. The people who got goosebumps from music literally had more fibers connecting their auditory cortex and areas associated with emotions...or in other words making what they hear directly connected to the area of the brain that processes our emotions.

Matthew Sachs says:

“The idea is that the more fibers and increased efficiency between two regions the more efficient the processing is between them,”

When all was said and done here's what he concludes:

"People who get the chills have an enhanced ability to experience intense emotions. Right now, that’s just applied to music because the study focused on the auditory cortex. But it could be studied in different ways down the line."

It seems to me that he is saying that people who get the goosebumps ("the physical reaction" to music) tend to have stronger emotions than those who don't get goosebumps from music.

Basically, music MOVES us (well those of us who share the goosebump producing thing), which I just assumed happened to everyone.  But clearly not the case, or maybe just not as much as it does me, and the rest of us whose little hairs stand at attention when our favorite song comes on, or our favorite lyric is sung, or our favorite guitar riff is played.

Check out the full study here.

-Amy