If You Get Shivers From Music, You Might Have A More Complex Brain, Says Study

Study suggests you're susceptible to a wider range of emotions

Everybody gets something different from music. Some of us are passive listeners, while others are active; some listen to dance and others to feel, but what we don’t decide is how our body chooses to react to the music we listen to. Some music listeners might even react to hearing a really beautiful song by getting the chills. For this writer, that’s hands-down every time I listen to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” or Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.”

In a recent study published by Oxford Academic, that specific reaction to music might indicate a uniqueness in your brain function. The study, by USC Phd student Matthew Sachs, claims that reacting to music with goosebumps indicates that you have “structural differences in the brain.”

It suggests that these people have a higher volume of fibers that “connect their auditory cortex to the areas associated with emotional processing,” as Neuroscience News reports. All in all, that means both areas can communicate better.

(Photo by Javier Molina on Unsplash

“The idea being that more fibers and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them,” writes Sachs. The increase of white matter connectivity displayed in the patients of the study has been found in people with “high emotional empathy” in the past, and would also have better ability to experience a wider range of complex emotions.

He calls this activity in the brain connected to aesthetics (like music) rewards, but says what accounts for those individual differences remains unclear. The study was only conducted on a small scale with 20 people, but Sachs is determined to put his theory to the test with more studies in the future. He hopes that he can use his findings to find new ways to treat depressive disorders. “You could use music with a therapist to explore feelings.”

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash