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

Summary: A new study suggests that experiencing aesthetic chills, or goosebumps, during stimuli like music, films, and speeches can lead to increased emotional intensity and positive valence. The study’s findings may have implications for understanding the role of embodied experiences 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 chills, or goosebumps from listening to music or watching movies can significantly impact a person’s emotional state, a new study reveals.

For the study, researchers investigated the emotional consequences of aesthetic chills and their effect on test subjects’ perception and evaluation of stimuli.

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

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

This shows a woman listening to music on 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. Image is in the public domain

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

The neural correlates of aesthetic chills resemble a pattern of activity 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, the orbito and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex while experiencing a euphoric feeling.

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 investigating the effects of chill-inducing stimuli, new studies may help to identify and develop therapies for those with dopaminergic disorders.

About this neuroscience research news

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

Original Research: Open access.
Aesthetic chills cause an emotional drift in valence and arousal” by Pattie Maes et al. Frontiers in Neuroscience


Aesthetic chills cause an emotional drift in valence and arousal

Aesthetic chills are an embodied peak emotional experience induced by stimuli such as music, films, and speeches and characterized by dopaminergic release.

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

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

We also found an interesting pattern in the valence ratings of participants, which tended to harmonize toward a similar mean after the experiment, though initially disparately distributed.

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

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