The goosebumps also known as piloerection, a natural and involuntary event which occurs when the pili erector muscles contract, causing the hair to stand on end. It usually happens when we are cold, scared or have strong emotions.
Although we can intuit when do we react and get goosebumps, it is a reaction that people cannot avoid. Various researchers like Jonathan McPhetres from the University of Durham (United Kingdom), investigated this unique human reaction and concluded that, in fact, We humans cannot control this process.
Other animals suffer from it too
What is known is that Goosebumps are the voluntary response of the sympathetic nervous system -the person in charge of moving the cases of emergencies-, and has the purpose of preparing the body for fight or flight.
To understand this, it is useful to look at reaction of animals such as cats or porcupines in a dangerous situation: they also make their skin crawl. The explanation is that standing hair does the bigger the animal looks and threatening, which can deter predators
It helps us understand why we get goosebumps. when we are afraid or in danger, but it is only one of two functions that have this reaction. The doctor of internal medicine and associate professor at Cornell University (USA), Michael Colver explains another purpose of his personal blog.
A protective barrier against the cold
“Goosebumps are a evolutionary sign of our first (hairier) ancestor, who they remain warm through an endothermic layer of heat which they keep under the hairs of the skin,” explains Colver. Piloerection helps retain body heat: When it is cold, the bristly hair creates a layer of warm air between the skin and the environment, which It helps insulate the body and prevent heat loss.
Unlike what we know about animals, humans, Piloerection may also have a social role. For example, this usually happens when we are exposed to something that like or excite us, such as a work of art or a musical performance. In these cases, piloerection can be a way to express our emotions or our enthusiasm.
In the process of loss
The investigator Robert H. Shmerling, from Harvard University (USA), points out in an article published by “Harvard Health Publishing”, that goosebumps can be loss process of people. Shmerling believes he will follow a path similar to coccyx or wisdom teeth.
In the same writing, the researcher also left the door open to another possible future: “It may play a bigger role than we currently understand and continue to do will confuse us for years to come“, he declared.