What Happens in the Brain When Music Causes Chills?

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(via Smithsonian.com)

by Jason Daley

For some people it’s David Bowie. For others it’s Franz Liszt. But regardless of the genre, when the right chords combine, many people will get goose bumps or a chill up the spine.

Somewhere between a half to two-thirds of the population have this reaction, yet scientists have long debated why. Past research has shown that when experiencing “the chills,” the neurotransmitter dopamine floods through the body. But a new study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience details what happens in the brain when the soprano hits the high note, reports Ian Sample for The Guardian.

These reactions are known as frissons—an aesthetic chill also sometimes called a “skin orgasm,” Mitchell Colver, doctoral student at Utah State University, writes for The Conversation. Though they are usually associated with listening to music, some can even get the willies while looking at art or watching a movie.

To investigate what happens in the brain during the chills, a group of researchers from Harvard and Wesleyan University selected ten people who claimed that they regularly experience a frisson while listening to music. He also selected ten subjects who never experienced the phenomenon.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/researchers-look-what-happens-brain-when-music-causes-chills-180959481/#cVKDio9kI1TgMY2Y.99

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