Goose bumps  

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In 1963, Roger Corman directed The Raven, a horror-comedy written by Richard Matheson very loosely based on the poem, "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. It stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff as a trio of rival sorcerers.
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In 1963, Roger Corman directed The Raven, a horror-comedy written by Richard Matheson very loosely based on the poem, "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. It stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff as a trio of rival sorcerers.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Goose bumps, also called goose flesh, goose pimples, chill bumps, or the medical term cutis anserina, are the bumps on a person's skin at the base of body hairs which may involuntarily develop when a person is cold or experiences strong emotions such as fear or awe. The reflex of producing goose bumps is known as horripilation, piloerection, or the pilomotor reflex. It occurs not only in humans but also in many other mammals; a prominent example are porcupines which raise their quills when threatened, or sea otters when they encounter sharks or other predators.

Contents

Cause

Extreme temperatures

Goosebumps can be experienced in the presence of cold temperatures. The stimulus of cold surroundings causes the tiny muscles attached to each hair follicle to contract. This contraction causes the hair strands to literally "stand on end." At the same time, the tiny muscles that are contracting are causing a "bunching" of the skin surrounding the hairs, which results in the "bumps" in goosebumps.

This is the body's way of preserving its own heat by causing the hairs on the skin to stand up, thus reducing heat loss. Goosebumps are often seen in conjunction with shivering in these instances.

People also get goosebumps when they are hot, or in the presence of extreme heat. The main reason for this is sweat. As the perspiration accumulates on the skin, it naturally evaporates. As the sweat evaporates, it cools down the skin surface. As this process occurs, a dramatic temperature difference occurs and the body responds to the "chill" of the evaporation of the sweat and the "goosebump response" kicks in.

Intense emotion

People often say they feel their "hair standing on end" when they are frightened or in awe. Another intense emotional situation that can cause goosebumps is the "fight or flight" response the body can employ in an extremely stressful situation. As the body prepares itself for either fighting or running, the sympathetic nervous system floods the blood with adrenaline (epinephrine), a hormone that speeds up heart rate, metabolism, and body temperature in the presence of extreme stress. The sympathetic nervous system also causes a reflex called piloerection, which makes the muscles attached to the base of each hair follicle contract and force the hair up. Goose bumps cause the hairs to stand up, just as porcupines raise their quills when threatened.

Music

Canadian researchers have suggested that when we are moved by music our brains behave as if reacting to delicious food, psychoactive drugs, or money. According to Caribbean Sociologist, Corey Alexander Lane, "The reaction from music is based on the memory induced emotion that some songs create." In the practice of music production this phenomenon has long been used to judge the quality and impact of a performance, particularly in recording studios during the playback process. The engineers and producers would say "You knew something was good if it gave you goose bumps." They would actually roll up their sleeves and visually check their arms.

The pleasure experience is driven by the chemical dopamine, which produces physical effects known as "chills" that cause changes in the skin's electrical conductance, heart rate, breathing and temperature. The responses correlate with the degree to which people rate the "pleasurability" of music.

The new research has shown that dopamine release was greatest when listeners had a strong emotional response to music. "If music-induced emotional states can lead to dopamine release, as our findings indicate, it may begin to explain why musical experiences are so valued,” wrote the scientists.

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Goose bumps" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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