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Medical Mysteries of Music

Scientists have done more work on why music gives us chills. It’s “pleasure overload.”

You know what I’m talking about. A great song comes on and you feel something pulse through your body: shivers, chills, goosebumps, and even hair standing on end. What’s going on?

This is new from StudyFinds.org:

 French researchers say studies on the brain reveal many people go into pleasure overload when their favorite tunes start playing.

Researcher Thibault Chabin and a team at the Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté examined the brains of 18 people who regularly get these chills when listening to music. After answering a questionnaire about how much pleasure they get from music, each volunteer received an EEG brain scan.


Study authors discovered specific electrical activity in the orbitofrontal cortex when music lovers experience a chill. This region is involved with emotional processing. There was also more activity in the supplementary motor area and the right temporal lobe, which handles auditory processing and musical appreciation on the right side of the brain.

All these regions work together to help humans process music, stimulate the brain’s reward centers, and release the “feel good” hormone dopamine. When you combine these reactions with the pleasurable anticipation of hearing your favorite chord strike in a song, the result is a tingly chill. This is a response that indicates greater connectivity in the cerebrum.

There’s more. Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37884 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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