The French call the experience frisson, which translates directly to aesthetic chills--you might call it goosebumps. Regardless of the name, if you experience a chilling sensation while listening to music, chances are you may be a more emotional person than the next listener. Perhaps this seems like an obvious conclusion, but a recent study indicates that this may be true from a deeper biological level than you know.
Findings from Matthew Sachs, PhD, student at the University of Southern California, suggest that your aesthetic response to music is reflective of the connectivity of your brain. Sachs details that if you get goosebumps while listening to music, you possess, "a higher volume of fibers that connects [your] auditory cortex to the areas associated with emotional processing." Simply put, the appearance of goosebumps on your skin also reveals your ability to get in touch with how you feel, which may involve a wider range of emotions than most.
In an interview with Quartz, Sachs also divulges his belief in music's untapped therapeutic potential. Not only can music be used to regulate emotions--many of us, for example, put on a song in order to feel a certain way or accommodate a certain mood--but these findings show that perhaps music can play a deeper role in therapeutic situations. "You could use music with a therapist to explore feelings," says Sachs, who hopes to have an impact on treating manic-depressive disorders.
This isn't the first time researchers have analyzed what physiological reactions like goosebumps mean for listeners. One study shows that listeners who experienced frisson while listening to music also scored high for a personality trait known as "openness to experience," which typically indicates active imaginations, appreciation of beauty and nature, and a love of variety and experiences in life.
Looks like goosebumps really mean a lot more than we would initially think.
If you are wondering which song specifically can help you figure out if you are a living, breathing, and feeling human, just look for any song that gives you chills up your spine and goosebumps on your skin. Finding this song, of course, may require some exploring--luckily for you, findings in the journal, Psychology of Music, indicate that "those who intellectually immerse themselves in music" may experience goosebumps more often and much more intensely than others.