What is frisson?

a Black person with goosebumps (or piloerection).

Frisson (also known as “aesthetic chills” or “psychogenic shivers”) is a physiological response that occurs when someone experiences intense emotions or stimuli. Have you ever listened to some music or watched a movie and you start getting goosebumps or shivers? That’s frisson. It’s triggered by a sudden release of dopamine, and is therefore connected to a rewarding feeling. This surge of dopamine then activates the sympathetic nervous system and as a result, your heartbeat can increase, you get goosebumps (or piloerection), your breathing becomes shallower, your pupils can dilate (known as mydriasis), and you can start to tense up your muscles.

Because of these reward-based responses, frisson can help improve stress, increase feelings of pleasure, and have positive effects on social cognition. Some studies have shown frisson can be artificially enhanced using wearable technology (see the paper “Augmenting aesthetic chills using a wearable prosthesis improves their downstream effects on reward and social cognition” below).

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