Matthew Sachs, a PhD student at the University of Southern California has conducted a controlled study to look at how the brain reacts to music that gives us chills. Sachs says that, “people who get the chills have an enhanced ability to experience intense emotions”. Each song chosen is particular to the person who has chosen it. The intense emotional reaction is connected to the type of music that is chosen. Sachs mentioned in his interview that there is a violation of expectation or a slow build in the music chosen that resulted in chills.
This study was born from Sachs own personal experience, “I have always had an intense emotional response to music and have always been perplexed by them”. The song he had chosen with the strongest emotional reaction is one his father used to play all the time. It reminded him of his dad and those songs connected to memories are typically strongly tied to resulting chills.
To learn more about this study and to find out exactly what goes on in our brain when we experience these chills, listen to the interview of Matthew Sachs and Joanna Clay for USC News.