Unlocking the Power of Goosebumps: The Surprising Emotional Effects of Aesthetic Chills

Resume: A new study suggests that experiencing aesthetic chills or goosebumps during stimuli such as music, movies and speeches can lead to increased emotional intensity and positive valence. The study’s findings may have implications for understanding the role of embodied experience in perception and decision-making and for the treatment of dopamine-related disorders such as Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and depression.

Source: Neuroscience news

Getting aesthetic shivers or goosebumps from listening to music or watching movies can significantly affect a person’s emotional state, a new study reveals.

For the study, researchers examined the emotional consequences of aesthetic shivers and their effect on subjects’ perception and evaluation of stimuli.

The study included more than 600 subjects. The participants were exposed to a series of movies, songs and speeches from the ChillsDB, an open-source repository of stimuli that elicit aesthetic shivers. The participants who reported experiencing goosebumps or “the chills” reported more positive valence and heightened arousal compared to those who did not experience aesthetic chills.

The findings suggest that experiencing aesthetic chills plays a role in influencing one’s perception and affective evaluation of stimuli. This also supports theoretical models that emphasize the importance of interoceptive cues during decision-making and perception.

This shows a woman listening to music through headphones
This finding suggests that the embodied experience of chills may play a role in influencing one’s perception and affective evaluation of a context. The image is in the public domain

Researchers also evaluated the role dopamine plays in salience signaling and precision coding, which have been associated with improved emotional recognition. The results of this study, they suggested, call for further investigation into the phenomenon of chills in disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression, all of which involve dopamine-related pathologies. They hope this will shed light on how bodily cues shape the perception of rewarding stimuli and context.

The neural correlates of aesthetic shivers resemble an activity pattern associated with the feeling of euphoria in psychopharmacological research. The ventral tegmental area neurons project to the hippocampus while correlating with a deactivation of the amygdala, orbito, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex while experiencing a euphoric sensation.

The researchers say they hope the findings of this study will lead to a better understanding of the emotional and physiological mechanisms behind aesthetic chills, and their potential use in a clinical setting. By further exploring the effects of chill-inducing stimuli, new studies may help identify and develop therapies for people with dopaminergic disorders.

About this neuroscience research news

Author: Press Office
Source: Neuroscience news
Contact: Press Service – Neuroscience news
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original research: Open access.
“Aesthetic chills induce an emotional drift in valence and arousal” by Pattie Maes et al. Frontiers in neuroscience


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Aesthetic chills cause an emotional drift in valence and excitement

Aesthetic chills are an embodied peak emotional experience triggered by stimuli such as music, movies, and speech and characterized by dopaminergic release.

The emotional consequences of chills in terms of valence and arousal are still debated and the existing empirical data are conflicting. In this study, we tested the effects of ChillsDB, an open-source repository of shiver-inducing stimuli, on the emotional ratings of more than 600 participants.

We found that participants who experienced chills reported significantly more positive valence and more arousal during the experience, compared to participants who did not experience chills. This suggests that the embodied experience of shivering may influence one’s perception and affective evaluation of context, favoring theoretical models that emphasize the role of interoceptive cues such as shivering in the process of perception and decision-making.

We also found an interesting pattern in participants’ valence scores, which tended to harmonize to a similar mean after the experiment, although initially unevenly distributed.

We discuss the significance of these results for the diagnosis and treatment of dopaminergic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression.

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