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Why Does Music Make Us Feel?

Have you ever listened to a great song and felt your body have a physical response, such as chills? It turns out that a recent study done by USC researchers may have an explanation for why some people experience intense emotions while listening to music. Researchers have found that individuals who report physical responses to music have a higher volume of connective fibers between the auditory cortex and areas in the brain associated with emotional processing. In other words, more fibers and increased efficiency between these two regions in the brain results in better processing between them.

Humans are unique in that they appreciate aesthetics, such as music. We experience positive responses to stimuli that offer no value for survival. These findings produce the first evidence that suggest that social-emotional communication through the auditory channel could be the reasoning behind music making being an aesthetically rewarding function in humans.

Although these findings are currently only being applied to music, they could be studied in numerous ways in the future. The implications of these findings suggest that individuals who get the chills may have an enhanced ability to experience more intense emotions in general. As the saying goes, “music is what feelings sound like.”


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