If you react to certain kinds of music with goosebumps, you have a unique brain.

You may have a wider, richer range of emotions.

Photo credit. ZME Science

Those who get chills from music have structural differences in the brain, namely “a higher volume of fibers that connect their auditory cortex to the areas associated with emotional processing, which means the two areas communicate better.”

The phenomena called frisson (French for aesthetic chills) was studied by University of California’s Matthew Sachs, published this year in Oxford Academic.

“The idea being that more fibers and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them.”

Research suggests that people with this characteristic also have more active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, and are often more reflective and emotional.

It could be that it is not just the music itself that causes the reaction,  but a particular importance it holds to someone, or the way it reminds them of a certain time in their life.

Very high notes and key changes that elicit goosebumps are an evolutionary reaction to surprise, sounding much like crying, a signal we recognize as distress.***

In the absence of trouble, the feeling emerges as joy or pleasure, rather than worry.

Sachs now believes that his findings could be used to treat mental illnesses such as depression.

“Depression causes an inability to experience pleasure of everyday things,” he says. “You could use music with a therapist to explore feelings.”


For me, this is a perfect example. Elegant voices that sound like crying. Goosebumps.



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75 Responses to Goosebumps

  1. dweezer19 says:

    I love this song; and, yes, it always gives me goosebumps.

  2. Love that piece of music, Van, and had to laugh because as I type this I’m having a bout of frisson. 😀

  3. joey says:

    Oh yes ❤ That's a beautiful duet, chills, goosebumps, the whole shebang! Crescendos can make me cry. I agree with the study, of course. Probably another one of those HSP things. I've never used the word frisson in either language, but I've read it in both. I will start calling it out properly now. Perhaps it will catch on, or at least make me sound smarter around all these musicians! 😛

  4. DGGYST says:

    My husband and I were just discussing this. He is a fantastic musician very connected to music and constantly covered in the goosebumps!

  5. I love this duet. Very good gossebump material Van. I sing in our church choir and when we do “O Holy Night” at Christmas I get lots of goosebumps. 💚

  6. I know someone like this. She’s a therapist.

  7. Sue Vincent says:

    Music therapy is not a new idea, it was used in ancient Greece for many health issues physical, mental and emotional. They believed that there was a mathematical relationship between music and the universe. But that was in temples… not scientific at all… *coughs*
    Nice to see science catching up… 😉

  8. Music, some moving movie scenes, a spectacular nature event…yea, I get goosebumps all the time.

    The weirdest time for goosebumps for me is when, after a day when I’ve registered being cold all day I hop into a hot shower. Instabump!

  9. I absolutely love music of all kinds. I often gives me goosebumps and always puts me in a good mood.

  10. Erika Kind says:

    Music is for sure a very effective tool to cause goosebumps but I agree it is also the story that is felt by listening which makes us part of it. And of course, certain profound statements an cause goosebumps too. I often get them when reading posts of our wonderful community!

    • You’re so right, Erika. It seems strange, but that has happened to me a few times here. Thanks.

      • Erika Kind says:

        No, not strange. You are simply very sensitive and compassionate. Having goosebumps right now… can you believe it? It also confirms a truth which is why it goes so deep!

      • I meant to send you this goosebump-worthy clip that I saw recently, don’t know if you’ve seen it. MJ from This Is It rehearsal’s Earth Song.

      • Erika Kind says:

        No, I did not see it before. Thank you very much for sharing it. It gave me goosebumps for many reasons. MJ was an ambassador. I know that everything happens for a reason and in a greater context than we may every understand but I wish he would have been given more time… Again, thank you for sharing. Amazing!!

  11. Val Boyko says:

    I got goosebumps reading this post Van…. and then I played the music.
    Thank you for the pleasurable and joyful experience 😍

  12. tric says:

    Now I feel I need to encourage the rise of goosebumps, because alas I don’t seem to number among those who experience them.

  13. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, so glad I have “frisson.” What interesting information. And I absolutely love Bocelli! Yep, goosebumps! 🌷 Christine

  14. Gorgeous oh so gorgeous, goosebumps for sure

  15. This makes complete sense to me. Total. Complete. Sense.

  16. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Tears and goosebumps! Whoa! Now I have to pull myself together to start my day! Oh, Van, I have this CD and have been avoiding playing it. Thank you for this Gift you have given me today! 👏🏼

  17. That really is interesting, Van.
    I wonder if it’s the same if you get goosebumps from thinking about goosebumps… 😀 Hugs.

  18. Ally Bean says:

    I didn’t know that musically-inspired goosebumps like these had a name. What a wonderful performance + what a simple idea to use frisson to help with depression. The things I learn here are great.

  19. TanGental says:

    sadly none of the pieces played for me – could be some internet blocker. I’m a bit Noel Coward when it comes to goosebumpy music – the potency of cheap music. Love is all around by the troggs, perfect day by Lou reed, Whiney Houston and Heather Small doing pretty much anything, Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell… tears too. What a mess!

    • Sorry about those links…they don’t travel across the pond, wish I knew another source ??? I so agree with your choices, especially Joni Mitchell…gets me every time. Thanks, Geoff.

  20. Your blog is always a good source of new information. I’ve heard this theory before but never in such detail. Thanks! This always gives me goosebumps:

  21. Great post Van! I believe whole heartedly in the power of music. I think I’ll share this!

  22. Lisa A. says:

    This is really interesting, Van. Several songs give me goosebumps.

  23. prior.. says:

    so informative and the photo is cool – with the bumps and hair on ends.
    the song is playing now and it was a nice lift to the mood here – and it does have emotions flowing – paintbrush voices….

  24. George says:

    Now that’s interesting….and that song does it for me everytime..:)

  25. I used to think it was just me not having enough frisson. But now I’m beginning to think maybe “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” is just not goosebump-inducing. Thank goodness! :O)

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