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Why Do Certain Songs Give You Chills?

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR

The Air Force Thunderbirds were soaring in a crystal blue sky above Lafayette and as they made a deep banked turn directly above my head the chorus to Free by the Zac Brown Band played over the speakers. I got the chills.

Was it the moment or the music that made the hairs on my arms stand up? According to scientist it was probably both.

The “frissons” as we say down here south of I-10 are an instinctive reaction to certain strong emotions. The hypothalamus, which is a part of your brain, is in charge of these reactions and you get them for a lot of different reasons. It’s all hard wired into our DNA for this part of the brain to send signals to the rest of our body that something important is happening or about to happen.

Think of all the reasons you get goosebumps. It could be the cold, it could be nostalgia or a sad song, or it could be fear.  It’s just your brain doing what it’s supposed to do. Now that we’ve gotten some of the science out of the way, what songs or situations give you the frissons? Call me American but the Star Spangled Banner being played while fireworks explode on the Fourth of July gets me everytime.

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