Harvard Study Explores Why We Get Goosebumps

by Paromita Datta published on -

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Goosebumps have always fascinated us, from Charles Darwin to modern scientists. Now a team from Harvard University may have finally cracked the mystery behind out. Their recent research, published in the journal Cell, shows that the evolution of goosebumps could be linked to our hair. The cells that cause goosebumps are also associated with the regeneration of hair follicles and hair. The formation of a goosebump involves the hair follicle and sympathetic nerves.

Close-up of skin with goosebumps

Goosebumps are our body’s response to external stimuli. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Sympathetic nerves are part of our nervous system which dictates our response to external stimuli and controls body hemostasis. It is connected with tiny smooth muscles, which in turn are connected to hair follicle stem cells. Hence, the muscle that contracts to make a goosebump acts as a bridge between the hair follicle and the sympathetic nerves. In cold conditions, the sympathetic nerves react by contracting the muscle, which forms the goosebump. It also drives stem cell activation for hair follicle growth. In the long-term, it induces new hair growth.

The researchers also found that when under prolonged cold conditions, the nerve activity was heightened with a higher release of neurotransmitters. The stem cells were activated, which triggered the regeneration of hair follicles and hair growth. When the tiny bridging muscles were removed, the sympathetic nerves retracted and the nerve response for hair stem cells was also lost, showing that the muscles were an important part of the process.

The researchers found that the process evolves with our hair follicles. It secretes a type of protein that forms the muscle. This attracts the sympathetic nervous system.

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About the Author

Paromita Datta covers the latest health and wellness trends for Organic Facts. An ex-journalist who specialized in health and entertainment news, Paromita was responsible for managing a health supplement for The New Indian Express, a leading national daily in India. She has completed her post-graduation in Business Administration from the University of Rajasthan and her diploma in journalism from YMCA, Delhi. She has completed an e-course, Introduction to Food and Health, from Stanford University, US.

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