Science explains: Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music?

In episode 8 of the Rap Viet gameshow, after watching G Ducky and Tez’s performance, the judge Justatee had to say: “Goosebumps!“. That’s a compliment to the young rapper couple, as we all know that only amazing repertoire can make the impression.”chill“come like that.

But in the end, why do people get goosebumps when listening to a good song? How is this reaction from listening to music compared to goosebumps when it is cold? Can scientists predict a piece of music that will give you goosebumps? And finally, what can music producers use from science to create records? hit conquer the audience?

Let’s find out in the article below:

Justatee had to say, “Goosebumps!” when he heard G Ducky’s performance

Why do we get goosebumps?

The goosebumps reaction has existed with humans for millions of years during evolution. It comes from contraction of the muscles around the pores and is a type of unconditional reflex. Obviously, you can’t use your willpower to control these tiny muscle fibers and like to get goosebumps whenever you want?

But on the contrary, you don’t need to learn or practice to force your goosebumps to float in the cold. Even animals possess these spasmodic muscles, and they function purely by instinct.

Apes, our distant ancestors, used to possess thick and warm fur like most other mammals on Earth. Fur helps animals cope with the cold. And when exposed to cold temperatures, the hair follicle muscles of animals contract to upright their feathers, forming a thick layer that holds warm air around the body.

Human plumage, during evolution and the invention of clothing, has been lost. Even so, the physiological mechanisms of the muscles surrounding the hair follicles have not disappeared. That’s why we can still get goosebumps as an unconditional reflex when exposed to cold temperatures.

Science explains Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music | Live

However, reality shows that people not only get goosebumps when they are cold but also in many other cases including: when scared, when stressed or when experiencing strong emotions such as anger, excitement. It’s because our bodies release a hormone called adrenaline, says George A. Bubenik, a zoologist at the University of Guelph.

This hormone helps put the body in a state ready to fight or face danger. Adrenaline causes many effects including: speeding up heart rate and blood pressure, enhancing brain alertness, hand sweating, tremors and one of them is goosebumps.

The evolutionary theory holds that humans also inherited this goosebumps reaction from the animals. When possessing a long coat and facing an enemy, ruffled feathers will make the animal’s body larger, increasing the rate of scare away from the enemy.

What is the difference in reaction to goosebumps listening to music?

Through the examples above we know two cases when the body has goosebumps: one is when it needs to stay warm and the other is when faced with fear. But that’s not all, listening to a song can give us goosebumps sometimes. So is this reaction any different or not?

The answer is yes! As early as the 1980s, cognitive scientists have noticed our goosebumps response to music. They found it difficult to have an evolutionary theory that could explain this strange human reaction. No other mammal invented music before us, so the goosebumps response to music is very different from when we are cold or scared.

It is also for this reason that scientists have classified the goosebumps response when listening to music into a set of higher-order arousal related to human emotions and superior intelligence. It did not appear to be associated with a clear evolutionary advantage, they argued.

For three decades, scientists have been constantly struggling to describe the reaction to goosebumps when listening to music. They in turn call it feelings like “chill“(when cold),”thrill“(trembling and nervous) or even” “skin orgasm“(orgasm on the skin). But all of these descriptions aren’t as close to reality and can cause us to confuse our feelings with each other.”

It wasn’t until 2011, for the first time in a book called “The Handbook of Music and Emotions: Theory, Research and Application “music cognitive professors David Huron from Ohio University and Elizabeth Margulis from the University of Arkansas have recently unified a term that describes a person’s goosebumps response to music.

They call it “frisson“- a French word meaning”creepy“. Even though frisson has the same meaning as”.chill“and”thrill“But because it is a French word, it is rarely used and is less confusing when placed in new context.

Science explains Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music | Live

Different from goosebumps caused by cold, fear, or discomfort (such as hearing nails or chalk brushing on the board), says Professor Huron “frisson“Can basically be defined as a pleasant goosebumps reaction. It’s usually a peak emotion you get while enjoying music.

This goosebumps response comes in a pleasant tingling, usually originating in the back of the neck or upper spine. It can then spread to the shoulders, onto the scalp, down the cheeks, and sometimes to the back, abdomen, groin, arms, chest, and legs.

Depending on the context, frisson can last from less than 1 second to 10 seconds or longer. But to maintain it, goosebumps often emerge in waves, not continuously.

From time to time, frisson can be accompanied by other feelings such as shivering, laughing, or even crying tears. You can also choke, find yourself breathless and your heart beats faster when listening to a hit song “frisson“Hey.

Recipe“Which ones for goosebumps?

You may be wondering, so what nerve mechanisms are behind the frisson’s response? Is it different from being scared or being cold? Scientists like Professor Huron have given some theories to explain goosebumps reaction when listening to music, but don’t rush to the answer, continue to follow Huron’s research path to see if he still has What interesting findings related to frisson have been discovered?

To reach the final hypothesis, Huron and his colleagues did a lot of experiments, in which a series of tracks were played for volunteers to see if they experienced the feeling of frisson, and if yes, what kind of music would that feeling appear?

Science explains Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music | Live

The results of these experiments reveal the basic principles that a music producer can apply in creating works that make listeners goosebumps. As Professor Huron concludes, a song containing the following characteristics will conquer the audience’s frisson response exactly where they appear:

1. Sections where the volume of a singer’s voice or music suddenly goes up (subito forte)

2. Transitions of music speed or song melody suddenly

3. New chord passages appear in a way that audiences can’t predict

4. Sudden tone changes

5. Sudden rhythm changes

6. The segments appear new frequency bands (high bass or high treble).

If I try to compare all these formulas with the song “Run“By Tez and G Ducky, as well as other performances that gave you goosebumps, you’ll see them all come in at the exact same spot that makes you feel frisson.

Many people feel they get goosebumps when G Ducky starts to raise his voice, which can be seen as the part where the tone has changed abruptly, and also the first time a low voice has appeared in the song to match his voice Tez’s high treble.

Conversely, when Tez’s treble is the opposite of G Ducky’s bass (during ver2 and hook), it also applies Huron’s 3 and 6 principles, introducing harmonies and frequency bands. just give you goosebumps.

Rule number 5, sudden beat change has been applied by both Tez and G Ducky in each of his rap ver, in which, for every bar of music, the flow of both of them changes, creating new “drop” beats. different positions of emphasis in each sentence of the lyric.

JustaTee goosebumps over GDucky and Tez’s seismic action with the rap “RAP VIET.” [Live Stage]

Finally, it is impossible not to mention the number 2 and number 1 principles – the most effective frisson-creating points in the song. Those were the final bars on the verifications of both Tez and G Ducky, where the two guys switched to fast-flow as the volume and especially the speed of the tracks spiked.

Now, try to compare the 6 principles of Huron for all the storming performances in Rap Viet, you will see behind every musical intention, from beats to rap lyrics, flow and singer selection. Combining each has the scientific aspects of frisson.

Frisson’s neural mechanism

Going back to the neural mechanisms behind the goosebumps response to music, do you see any common ground in Huron’s six principles? The volume is suddenly loud, the tune is surprisingly fast, the unpredictable harmony, the super low or super high definition like a scream?

The answer: They are the factors that evoke the fear. “The factors that elicit a frisson’s response seem very similar to the factors that elicit the fear response“, he said.

Imagine, are you afraid when someone suddenly screams in your ear (rule number 1 and number 6, when shouting is usually very high)? Any sudden and unpredictable element can evoke a sense of fear in a person, whether it’s an electric car suddenly bursting out of a small alley, or a new harmonic ring, change the tone and change the beat in the song.

The difference comes only in the level of your reaction, have you ever had to hold your breath not knowing if a rapper can go through a fast flow, or a singer can hit high notes without. Broken voice?

Fear brings a frisson feeling in a very subtle song. That’s because it follows a “circuit of fear” in each of our brains – a neural signaling pathway that has two branches high and low.

As an example, when G Ducky starts his fast flow, his voice and singing speed transmit a packet of sound waves of 344 m / s stimulus into the hairs in the snail. your ears. These hairs send nerve signals to the auditory cortex. Here, sound waves are translated into electrical impulses between neurons that the brain can understand.

These electrical signals then travel to the hippocampus (thalamus), where all of your senses (except olfaction) are gathered there. When the thalamus realizes that what you are hearing has an evoking factor, it begins to activate the low and high circuit of fear.

Science explains Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music | Live

In the low road, the signal going straight to the amygdala is the place to make decisions about all of your emotional responses, including fear. Amygdala will recognize your fear (Are you scared because G Ducky sings too loud, worried he won’t finish this fast flow, or is it simply because you were surprised by the piece?).

It is worth noting that the amygdala only recognized this fear without analyzing it. As soon as it recognizes signs of fear, the amygdala sends a signal to the hypothalamus – which triggers the body’s defense response. Hypothalamus holds in it a regulator of about 30 different hormones in the body, including adrenaline that causes your pupils to dilate, your heart rate increases, your spine is cold and you get goosebumps.

Activated at the same time as low-road is the high road circuit. On this branch, G Ducky’s voice goes from thalamus to the sensory cortex. Here fear is not only receptive (like amygdala) but also assessed and analyzed (Does the loud volume a singer emit really intimidating you? Can he finish this song perfectly? Should you be scared of that?).

To answer these questions, the cortex sensory must compare your feelings with the memories you have encountered in the past. These memories are stored in the hippocampus and it asks itself: In the past, have there been singers singing and intimidating you? With G Ducky’s abilities, can he finish that rap? So should you be scared?

When all the answers are no, the hippocampus sends the signal back to the amygdala and calms it (This is not a fear, don’t be afraid). Amygdala signals the hypothalamus to recover adrenaline and other hormones, causing your goosebumps to sink.

Because of having to go around, the high road’s calming circuit will have a delay of about 500 milliseconds compared to the low road. It is also the time when your goosebumps rise and sink. And you will have a feeling of relief, very comfortable and pleasant at this point.

Science explains Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music | Live

The circuit of low-road and high-road dread is just one of the theories that explains the frisson’s reaction, or goosebumps when listening to music. Several new studies in which volunteers have electroencephalogram (EEG) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while listening to music show that every time they have goosebumps, brain regions process emotions and rewards as well. be activated.

Specifically, these are the nucleus regions (Nacc), lobe lobe (aIna), and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The area of ​​the brain that processes hearing has structural connections to the brain’s reward circuits. And they are also activated according to principles quite similar to Professor Huron’s six principles, but combined into a single element “surprise“.

When a song suddenly changes to create points “violates the listener’s expectations in a positive direction“In terms of rhythm, frequency band, harmony, or tone, it surprises their brains in a positive direction. This response activates the brain’s reward system, which produces dopamine – a hormone that causes them to turn on their brain. I feel pleasure.

Take for example Susan Boyle’s famous performance in the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent Contest. In the auditorium at that time, no one would have expected this 47-year-old, unremarkable appearance to have a voice. internal power and great singing. Many confessed that they had goosebumps as soon as Boyle sang the first line, simply because they were so surprised.

Susan Boyle – Britains Got Talent 2009

If you don’t get goosebumps, don’t be sad

So science shows that there are at least 2 nerve mechanisms that can explain the frisson’s reaction, or goosebumps when listening to music. The first is the low-road and high-road fear circuits, the second is the reward circuit.

But certainly, there are some people who never get goosebumps when watching these performances. What has happened to them? It is exactly as MC Tran Thanh said: “If anyone does not feel happy watching such a great performance, I feel sorry for them because they are so mistreated about their feelings “ or not?

In fact, Professor Huron’s studies show that not everyone who listens to a song with six frisson triggers has goosebumps when listening to a song that has six frisson triggers. About 45-47% of the population never get goosebumps for any music they listen to in their life.

A 2016 study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that people with less white matter connections in the parts of the brain involved in the brain’s reward circuit were less likely to show a frisson response.

People with very low white matter connections in this area such as autistic children, people with mood disorders and schizophrenia are unlikely to get goosebumps when listening to music. Hence, it is somewhat more like a misfortune than self-abuse.

The genre of music, the condition and the audience also determines in part whether the frisson reaction occurs or not. For example, a 2007 survey found that up to 90% of conservative music students get goosebumps when listening to music; in comparison, only 35% of students from other disciplines have this reaction.

Listening to music directly at the stage (live) also has a higher frisson activation rate than recordings. This is explained by a new study published in March in the journal Frontiers based on stereoscopic effect. Because when live, singers often create large, small, sharper sets than recordings, the surround speaker system also creates sound movement, so it is easier to stimulate nerve circuits in the brain. .

Science explains Why do we get goosebumps when we listen to music | Live

Finally, the culture and listening habits are also the deciding factors in whether you get goosebumps because of a song or not. Jeanette Bicknell, a Canadian researcher, author of two books “Why does music move us“and “The philosophy of singing” said: “Different musical cultures based on different patterns of rhythm and rhythm organization “. This is a factor that greatly affects a person’s musical experience.

Those who rarely listen to rap music, are not interested in rap music may find it less empathetic and difficult to immerse themselves in the repertoire of Rap Viet. Again, you don’t have to get goosebumps for these repertoire, but if you do, that must be a great feeling, right?

[ Æsir Tales ]
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