Have you ever heard a song that gives you chills and makes the hairs on your arms stand? Well, if this is a familiar sensation to you, you may have a unique brain compared to most.
A former undergraduate at Harvard University, Matthew Sachs, performed a study to see why some people experience sensations like goosebumps when listening to music while others do not.
The research found that people who experience these intense sensations when listening to music could have an enhanced ability to experience intense emotions.
Ph.D. student at USC, Matthew Sachs, took brain scans of 20 students, 10 students who admit to experiencing chill-like sensations when listening to music and 10 who do not. The results proved that there is a difference between these participants and it comes down to brain structure.
The participants who experience emotional sensations in relation to music were found to have a higher volume of fibers connecting their auditory cortex and areas that process emotions, which means the two communicate more effectively.
“The idea being that more fibers and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them,” Sachs told Neuroscience News.
From his findings, Sachs discovered that people who get the chills or goosebumps when listening to a specific song are more likely to experience a heightened intensity of emotions compared to others.
“Chills are generally a response to feeling cold,” Michael Sachs told Quartz in his curiosity to how it relates to aesthetic stimuli. “Our hair stands on end, and when we’re threatened, it makes us look larger.”
The study further proves that there can be profoundly pleasurable and rewarding emotional responses to aesthetic stimuli such as music and art, but also shows how individualized these reactions are for everyone.
“Finding the behavioral and neural differences between individuals who do and do not experience such reactions may help gain a better understanding of the reward circuitry and the evolutionary significance of aesthetics for humans,” Sachs’ Oxford Academic article concludes.
Studying psychology and neuroscience at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, Sachs is working on a number of projects correlating music, emotions, and the brain.