Why do we get goosebumps?

The air-conditioning in my office was at too low a temperature the other day and I was getting goosebumps. We all know it’s a reflex action and is triggered by certain external factors like all other reflex actions. But I wanted to know what it is physiologically and what all can trigger it.

The medical name for goosebumps is cutis anserine and they happen when the tiny muscles in each hair follicle called arrector pili muscles contract according to the signal sent by the sympathetic nervous system. Cold is one of the commonest reasons for getting goosebumps and they serve to pull the hair upright creating an insulating layer of hair and warm air around the body. The resulting small raised bumps does make human skin somewhat resemble the skin of a plucked goose or other poultry. Goosebumps is a proof of the evolution of humans from much hairier animals in whose case they actually served to keep the body warm, unlike in humans.

According to this article, one of the other reasons for getting goosebumps apart from cold is during fever when the body sweats to cool itself down and you can get goosebumps even if you are inside a blanket. Fear and excitement are two more common reasons for getting goosebumps. A surge of adrenaline can trigger the sympathetic nervous system, despite whatever the surrounding temperature is. This explains getting goosebumps during a thrilling event like riding a roller coaster, watching a horror movie or making love.

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So what’s this blog about?

Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.
June 2009
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