Science reveals rhythm of the goosebumps

SCIENTISTS have uncovered the reason people speak of music giving them goosebumps.

When we are moved by music our brains behave as if reacting to delicious food, psychoactive drugs or money, research has shown.

The pleasure experience is driven by the "reward" chemical dopamine, which has been linked to addiction.

It produces physical effects known as "chills" that cause changes in electrical skin conductance, heart rate, breathing and temperature.

The responses correlate with the degree to which people rate the "pleasurability" of music, say the Canadian researchers.

Valorie Salimoor, from McGill University, Montreal, and colleagues tested volunteers who were given magnetic resonance imaging brain scans while listening to music. They found that during "peak emotional arousal" regions of the brain linked to pleasure and reward released dopamine. At the same time, the effect of the music was reflected in "chills" measurements.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a biochemical that helps nerve cells transmit signals to each other and provides the "feel good" experience associated with enjoyable food, money, sex and some drugs.

The research is reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience.