Listening for Chills


            Walking to class on a nice warm day I suddenly felt chills run up my spin. No it wasn't the refreshing state college breeze, it was from my Bose headphones and a great verse from Kendrick Lamar. I've always loved music and had a passion for it. I predominately listen to hip-hop and because I like it so much I not only enjoy it mentally, but physically as well.

            Music, physiologically, can have a greater impact on you than you could imagine. According to the article Why Does Music Give Us Chills?, "When your playlist strikes all the right chords, your body can go on a physiological joyride. Your heart rate increases. Your pupils dilate. Your body temperature rises. Blood redirects to your legs. Your cerebellum--mission control for body movement--becomes more active. Your brain flushes with dopamine and a tingly chill whisks down your back." This physical reaction to music could be why people listen to their favorite music when hitting the gym or before a big game. Music can really get your blood flowing, getting more oxygen to your muscles and more circulation through your body to increase performance.  So that one song blaring behind you as you step up to the plate or walk out the tunnel can, not only pump you up mentally, but physically as well.

            There is no specific genre or type of music that elicits this response, "whether it's Mozart, Madonna, tango, or techno"(Mental Floss), it's how your body perceives each form of music, and the emotional response it may draw from you. I find it very interesting how your personality and emotions have such a powerful effect on your body. But, some people, such as David Huron from an article in the Columbus Dispatch believe that, "the more a piece of music surprises, or "alarms," a person, the deeper the reaction." Humans respond to surprise with two different kinds of reactions, a rapid response and a slower appraisal response. The rapid response is caused by situations where we feel we have to protect ourselves and the appraisal response let's us know that it is safe. According to Huron, "'special moments' with music require that both responses be triggered in the brain." So when the beat finally drops in your favorite EDM song, even though you knew it was coming, the rush and thrill from that particular part can still catch your body off guard, creating that "special moment."

            Some people who don't have a passion for music don't experience this same feeling, "about 50 percent of people get chills when listening to music"(Mental Floss). Others can have the same response to other things though. Similar stimulation can be caused by anything really: an epic touchdown catch, an intense movie, or even a beautiful painting. This feeling stems from a variety of different things selective to your personality and that surprise factor. Do you ever experience this? If so what triggers it, and how often?







I experience this sensation whenever I listen to a song that brings about a specific memory. I could name many songs but I'll give an example that all of us as Penn Staters can relate to: Sweet Caroline. Whenever I hear this song, chills run down my spine thinking about singing my heart out in Beaver Stadium along with 100,000 others.

What is it about music and certain songs that transports us to such vivid memories? According to ScienceDaily, "The region of the brain where memories of our past are supported and retrieved also serves as a hub that links familiar music, memories and emotion." The hub of the brain is the medial pre-frontal cortex, which lies just behind the forehead.

What specific songs bring you back to past memories?

Here is a link that describes a study done of music and memory

I experience this sensation every single day honestly. I cannot walk to class or anywhere for that matter without having my headphones plugged into my phone. I listen to music constantly all day long. I have specific songs that will give me goose bumps and chills but it usually happens to me when it is my favorite song for that time period or if I can relate to it in the moment. Music can bring back so many memories and allow you to remember things you wouldn't necessarily remember without having listened to the song. Music helps my emotions on a daily basis. Here is an article that goes more into depth.

This happens to me all of the time. Certain lyrics from songs or certain instrumental parts of songs give me the goose bumps all the time. However, I feel like there is a difference between getting goosebumps from the lyrics of a song compared to the instrumental parts. Anyone can be affected by the verses of songs. A certain lyric hits home, or a feeling that the song is describing. On the other hand, I think that one has to have some sense of musical knowledge to really appreciate the instrumental parts of songs. When I listen to songs, it's that part that gets me. Being a trained musician, I understand what is going on in the background to get that sound, or that noise, and the combination of sounds. I appreciate when musicians can put together really powerful music. When I hear and awesome song, I really appreciate it from all angles which is what gives me the goosebumps, because I can connect with the music. Anyways, here is a really interesting article that my mom sent me a while back, called "This is your Brain on Music". It says that listening to music lowers anxiety levels more than medications, can you believe that!?

I never ever thought there was a reason for this when it happened to me! This happens to me all the time but I never thought anything about it. It's amazing how music can really affect a person in that way. There are certain songs that I do listen to in certain situations. I can definitely relate to songs that I like to listen to in the gym that get me pumped up. I actually can feel it in my body and it forces me to work out harder. It's actually amazing to me that music actually gets your blood flowing too, I would have never thought that! This happens to me quite often actually, especially on days when I either feel pretty down or super excited. I know that certain songs affect a lot of people in the same way so I did some research on some of the greatest pump up songs for athletes. I found at top 50 list on bleacher report and I thought it was really interesting. I could relate to a lot of the songs. Check them out! Maybe you have a personal connection to any of them?

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