General Question

goober's avatar

What causes Goosebumps and what is the reason the body performs this strange occurrence?

Asked by goober (315points) December 24th, 2008

Inspired by jonblonds question,“what film gives you Goosebumbs”,also do Goosebumps serve a purpose?

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7 Answers

MissAnthrope's avatar

It’s called piloerection.. the individual hairs raise up in response to cold. The idea is that the raised hairs trap warm air beneath them, helping to keep you warm. It’s less functional now that we have less body hair, but that is the purpose behind it.

goober's avatar

So a, fright,for instance may cause body temperature to drop and the Goosebumps act as a safety net?

MissAnthrope's avatar

“Goose bumps are created when tiny muscles at the base of each hair, known as arrectores pilorum, contract and pull the hair erect. The reflex is started by the sympathetic nervous system, which is in general responsible for many fight-or-flight responses.

“As a response to cold: in animals covered with fur or hair, the erect hairs trap air to create a layer of insulation. Goose bumps can also be a response to anger or fear: the erect hairs make the animal appear larger, in order to intimidate enemies. This can be observed in the intimidation displays of chimpanzees,[1] in stressed mice[2] and rats, and in frightened cats. In humans, it can even extend to piloerection as a reaction to hearing nails scratch on a chalkboard, listening to awe-inspiring music[3]; feeling or remembering strong, positive emotions (e.g., after winning a sports event)[4]; or to an intellectual or spiritual epiphany.

“Piloerection as a response to cold or emotion is vestigial in humans; as humans retain only very little body hair, the reflex (in humans) now provides no known benefit.

“In humans, goose bumps are strongest on the forearms, but also occur on the legs, neck, and other areas of the skin that have hair. In some people, they even occur in the face or on the head. In humans, the areolas of the breasts of females typically show piloerection because of hormonal distribution, for example, when aroused or inside the maternity cycle.”


goober's avatar

Thankyou very much AlenaD

MissAnthrope's avatar

Welcome. :)

PupnTaco's avatar

It’s called R.L. Stine.

AstroChuck's avatar

PupnTaco beat me to the punch. Dammit!

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