Have you ever experienced chills or goose bumps from music? A psychologist at Wesleyan Universities, Psyche Loui, said that this is known as “skin orgasms.”
In a recent article by BBC, David Robson, a science writer covers the potential psychological and physiological explanations for the physical thrill you get from music.
For instance, violated expectations seem to startle (albeit gently) the automatic nervous system, in its most primitive region, the brain stem – producing the racing heart, the breathlessness, the flush that can signal the onset of a frisson. What’s more, the anticipation, violation, and resolution of our expectations triggers the release of dopamine in two key regions – the caudate and the nucleus accumbens, shortly before and just after the frisson. You see a similar response when people take drugs or have sex, which may explain why we find shiver-inducing songs so addictive, says Loui. (Along similar lines, when pharmacologist Avram Goldestein at Stanford University blocked the brain’s opiate signaling – a system that controls reward and addiction – he found that it significantly reduced volunteers’ ability to feel skin orgasms.)
The ‘skin orgasm' can be triggered by songs that diverge our expectations, whether that is a key change, a sudden switch from soft to loud, or a note that clashes with the tune's melody.