If music gives you chills or goosebumps and help you connect with yourself at a deeper level, then you are a unique person and your brain might be special.
Music has a great impact on our brain, which is why sometimes it makes us happy, sometimes sad, contemplative, sometimes we feel out-of-this-world and sometimes we experience physical sensations like a lump in the throat.
The first time I listened to Adele’s “Million Years Ago”, I cried like hell.
What is the cause of experiencing such intense emotions?
Mattew Sachs, studies psychology and neuroscience at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute. He’s working on various projects that involve music, emotions and the brain.
Sachs conducted a study at the University of Southern California, on people who get sensations from listening to music and examined how different sensations were triggered in the body. Out of 20 participants, only 10 admitted that they get feelings of chills when listening to music while the other ten did not feel any such feeling. The study was published in Oxford Academic.
When the brain scans of these particpants were taken and compared to see the impact of the music and difference in sensations triggered in these participants. The results showed that the brain cell structures of people who felt sensations upon listening to music is different from those who don’t feel any sensations.
And it was observed that people who feel the sensations when listening to exceptional music are those who make a physical and emotional attachment to music. Those who don’t make such attachments have different type of brain cell structures.
The former have dense volume of fibers in the brain cells, which help them communicate effeciently. Because the fibres form neural connections and pathways between areas that process emotions and auditory cortex. So, more the fibres, more the efficiency betwen two regions.
Therefore, these individuals who get chills from listening to incredible songs have high receptivity and are highly sensitive to emotions. In short, having goosebumps when listening to music means you have an enhanced ability to experience intense emotion.
The other reason why music gives you chills is that a particular song reminds you of memories of a person, incident or anything linked to it.
Sachs is focused on exploring more about the brain activity of people listening to music and getting different sensations. He is yet to discover the cause of change in neurological activity and if that can help in treating people with mental disorders.
Isn’t it an incredible research? The study was done on a small scale and mainly focused ion auditory cortex, but opened a door for deeper research into the impact of music on human brain.
Are you happy to know that you are an emotional genius? What is your experience listening to different types of music? Which genres do you listen more? Share your thoughts in comments below.
- Sachs, M.E., Ellis, R.J., Schlaug, G., and Loui, P., 2016. Brain connectivity reflects human aesthetic responses to music. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 11(6), pp.884-891.
- Sachs, M.E., Damasio, A., and Habibi, A., 2020. Unique personality profiles predict when and why sad music is enjoyed. Psychology of Music, p.0305735620932660.