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piloerection (goosebumps), the physical part of frisson

Frisson (French for 'shiver') is a sensation somewhat like shivering, usually caused by stimuli other than cold. It is typically expressed as an overwhelming emotional response combined with piloerection (goosebumps). Stimuli that produce a response are specific to the individual.

Frisson is of short duration, usually no more than 4–5 seconds, usually pleasurable.[1] Typical stimuli include loud passages of music and passages that violate some level of musical expectation.[2]

It has been shown that during frisson, the skin of the lower back flexes, and shivers rise upward and inward from the shoulders, up the neck, and may extend to the cheeks and scalp. The face may become flush, hair follicles experience piloerection. This frequently occurs in a series of 'waves' moving up the back in rapid succession. The frissoner usually feels the experience as involuntary.

It has been shown that some experiencing musical frisson report reduced excitement when under administration of naloxone (an opioid receptor antagonist), suggesting musical frisson gives rise to endogenous opioid peptides similar to other pleasurable experiences.[3] Frisson may be enhanced by the amplitude of the music and the temperature of the environment. Cool listening rooms and movie theaters may enhance the experience.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frisson | Define Frisson at". Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  2. ^ a b David Brian Huron (2006). Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation. MIT Press. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-262-08345-4. 
  3. ^ David Huron. "Music Cognition Handbook: A Glossary of Concepts". Retrieved 2015-04-14. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Thrills, chills, frissons, and skin orgasms: toward an integrative model of transcendent psychophysiological experiences in music", Luke Harrison and Psyche Loui, Frontiers in Psychology, 23 July 2014, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00790.