Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why and how do we get “goose bumps”?

Most people are prone to get “goose bumps” when they are cold, excited, or in awe. Biologically, however, the process is much more complicated. Cold temperature will serve as the stimulus in this explanation. Almost all people have been surprised by a shock of cold and received goose bumps, or cutis anserina. They are caused by nerve cells reacting to the stimulus, sending a message to the brain, and hormones releasing to insulate the skin. The body functions so that it maintains homeostasis, so when the brain receives the message “cold”, it reacts.

The message is sent to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, the part that regulates hormones and is also said to connect the physical and spiritual body. The hypothalamus scientifically connects the nervous system to the endocrine system, and is also the part of the brain that stimulate emotions.

Beneath the hypothalamus is the pituitary gland, which is connected to the hypothalamus by neurosecretory cells. The pituitary gland releases hormones into the blood stream which are rushed to the affected area(s), and create “goose bumps”. The hormones that stimulate “goose bumps” cause tiny muscles at the base of each hair to contract and cause the hair to erect. This process is for insulation, and is one of the ways of how the body most efficiently maintains heat.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Abby - great explanation of a condition a lot of people wonder about.