Everyone knows the feeling of being thrilled by music. You might get a chill. Goosebumps might pop up. There’s a little tingle that comes from the neck or the spine.
But what is that? What’s the specific neurological/physiological response? Why do we respond to music with the same sensations we have when we get cold? What evolutionary purpose could this possibly have?
Scientists have been stumped–until now.
A study at USC found those who felt chills with music had more nerve fibres running from the auditory cortex (the place where audio is processed) to the anterior insular cortex (where feelings are processed) and the media prefrontal cortex (where emotions are assigned to stimuli).
This makes sense. Audio has to pass through areas of the brain responsible for giving us some kind of thrill. But not everyone has the same number or density of these nerve fibres. That explains why some people seem to be more sensitive to music.