What It Means If Music Gives You Chills

“I sort of feel that my breathing is going with the song, my heart is beating slower and I’m feeling just more aware of the song…”

“I sort of feel that my breathing is going with the song, my heart is beating slower and I’m feeling just more aware of the song…”

Getting goose bumps or a lump in your throat while listening to music is relatively rare, research finds.

It could be an indication that your brain is unique, according to recent research that examined how the feeling of chills is triggered.

People who feel chills from music have an enhanced ability to feel emotions.

This could be down to a structural difference in the brain.

If you assumed everyone could feel the same chills you do, then think again, write the researchers:

“Although these emotion and reward systems are found in all humans, not everyone experiences intense emotional responses to music…

…some individuals report being unable to experience pleasure from music despite normal responses to other rewards (e.g. monetary rewards).”

For some, though, the experience is intense, they write:

“Individuals tend to report a complex array of bodily and mental sensations while listening to music, such as the feeling of a lump in the throat, feeling moved and the experience of chills: the tingling sensation on the scalp, back of the neck and spine that is often accompanied by goose bumps.”

Brain scans of 20 students, half of whom said they experienced chills, revealed denser structures in fibres that connect the auditory cortex to the brain’s emotional centres.

Mr Matthew Sachs, the study’s first author said:

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

Alissa Der Sarkissian, who is a friend of Mr Sachs, described the chills she gets from music like this:

“I sort of feel that my breathing is going with the song, my heart is beating slower and I’m feeling just more aware of the song — both the emotions of the song and my body’s response to it,”

The study was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Sachs et al., 2016).


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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.