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Author Topic: Is it common or useful to be able to control goosebumps, and pulse, at will?  (Read 244652 times)

Offline Jolyon

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In your question of the week forum, there is some information regarding goosebumps.I have a curious [seemingly useless] ability to produce goosebumps at will, regardless of external stimuli [ie temperature, fear, excitement etc] and it has always intrigued me. I have been led to believe that goosebumps are produced by an area of the brain that is reponsible for our instinctual/reflex behavior [the primative brain stem or medulla found at the base of the skull] and therefore should not be able to be controlled at will. I also have noticed that I am able to increase my pulse rate at will [without any change in physical exertion] which, I have observed, islinked to the my ability to produce goosebumps. Is this common/useful?
any ideas? I would be happy to discuss this further.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2011 10:15:18 by chris »


 

Offline Quantumcat

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That's freaky, if you're telling the truth.

I can squeeze a muscle inside my ear if that's interesting lol, useful for plane rides.

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Offline Jolyon

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Yes, telling the truth, this remarkable- [irony]- skill is real, just not sure how or why. Just thought it may interest someone from a research point of veiw.
 

Offline tweener

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I care.  It sounds very interesting.

When I was in college I was very much into meditation, and I could control all sorts of autonomic nervous system activities.  I never tried goose bumps except to stop them when I was cold (I could prevent shivering(sp?) also).

I've since lost the knack but would like to get back into it.

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Offline Jolyon

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Hi guys, still trying to get the hang of this forum thing,
I have been doing a little more research on controlling the autonomic system and have found that some poker players repress aspects of this system to avoid being read by other players,[poker-face] no-one describes how they do it exactly but I thought it may be related.
I have a further querie relating to this that I hope someone can offer some ideas. To increase my heart rate, as described in my opening question, I think I must be increasing the amount of adrenaline to my heart, if this is in fact what's happening, would it then theoretically be possible to control other glands at will, eg sweat?
 

Offline chris

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In a nutshell, yes.

The sympathetic nervous system tunes everything up for action. It raises heart rate, dilates the pupils and the airways in your lungs, shuts down blood flow to the guts, diverts blood away from non-essential vascular beds and activates sweating.

The chemical messengers producing all of these effects are the catecholamines noradrenaline, and its derivative adrenaline. There are 2 sources of these transmitters. Sympathetic nerves secrete noradrenaline onto their target tissues (heart, lungs, blood vessel walls, eyes) except for sweat glands - the nerves supplying those use an alternative transmitter acetyl choline. The other source of catecholamines is the adrenal gland which makes adrenaline and nor adrenaline.

The thing is that the autonomic nervous system is known as-such because it is automatic. It normally lies beyond conscious control. That is not to say that with practice some people can reproduce some of the effects in an indirect sort of way. For instance I can make my heart rate go up and down by thinking about things that panic or excite me, or calming things to relax me. Embarassment makes us go red. These are indirect manifestations of mood. But you can't, for instance, voluntarily control the sizes of your pupils !

Now how you are managing to make patches of goose pimples I have no idea ! It is possible that there may be a mis-conection in your nervous system linking 2 things that shouldn't be linked and enabling you to do this, but it sounds rather unusual ?!

Tell us a bit more about it. How big is the path, how long does the effect last, does it resemble normal goose pimples ? Do you get goose pimples normally (i.e. when cold )?

Chris

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Offline Jolyon

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G'day Chris,
It is definitely a phsical process and requires no mental trigger. For example I can clearly distinguish this process from say creating saliva by thinking of food, it is definately not that. Whilst it sounds like a trivial party trick [and may well be] I am curious as to any wider implications it may uncover. It is a process I learned and practiced from a young age [god only knows why] and is physically related to two other processes that are harder to define as they have no physical manifestation like goosebumps. To answer your questions, yes I do experience goosebumps through normal external stimuli and as far as I can assertain they are in no way different to the ones I produce "manually" [for want of a better word]. Whist increasing my heart rate requires a similar physical process to producing the goosebumps, I can choose whether to switch them on or not. I am aware I may be begining to come across as a complete crackpot, but I assure you what I am describing is real and would love to understand it more.
 

Offline chris

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Are they in a discrete patch, or generalised over the whole body ?

C

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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Offline Jolyon

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All over the body, most visable on the arms as I have very fine hair there. There is no difference in appearance or quantity in them then if they were produced as a result of an external stimuli, cold, emotion etc.
 

Offline Jolyon

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.....also the effect lasts for as long as I want, although the intensity may waver and requires a high level of concentration.
 

Offline chris

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Amazing - can you get some photographs ?

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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Offline Jolyon

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Possibly, would that help make it clearer?  Ultimately it would just be a pic of an arm before and after goosebumps.
Just to clarify, from a scienticic point of view controling your sympathetic nervous system [except indirectly] should not be possible?
 

Offline chris

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Not really. The autonomic nervous system takes care of 'housekeeping' processes that do not require conscious intervention - otherwise your circulation would collapse when you fell asleep !

That's not to say that you cannot learn to control some aspects of your autonomic function, indirectly, as you say.

Chris

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Offline Jolyon

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Mmmmmm. It seems I am no closer to understanding. Whist I am not a scientist this "goosebump effect" does not seem to be the result of an indirect stimuli ie. thinking cold thoughts etc, It is a physical act that seems to eminate from the area at the base of my skull. If I learn anything else about it I will let you know.

Thanks for your time Chris, love the site.
 

Offline tweener

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Yes, thanks Chris!  I'm enjoying this thread and others that you are contributing to!

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Offline bezoar

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I'll bet you could produce goosebumps by hypnotic suggestion too.  Would this be an autonomic response or a (sub)conscious intervention?

Bezoar
 

Offline Ylide

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Many practitioners of arts like yoga or qi gong can do wacky things like slow their heart rates to abnormally low levels, pass things through their bodies that shouldnt pass, or generate heat in localized areas.  

I'm still pretty low on the rungs of my studies in biochemistry and physiology,  (that's for grad school, my nearly-completed undergrad degree is in plain ol' chemistry)  so I don't have a vast understanding of the mechanisms of these skills.  But I can tell you that I spent some time in years past studying qi gong and reiki, and I've seen people do some pretty amazing things to themselves and others.  I don't proclaim any of these things to be supernatural, but I do think that one can mess with biological functions of the body that are supposed to be "automatic."  

Some real research on the validity of holistic healing modalities would make for some kickass graduate thesis work.  If anyone's done any kind of studies that provide evidence either for or against various types of alternative medicine, I'd love to hear about it.



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Offline chris

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So Jolyon,

what do you actually DO to make yourself have goos pimples ? Talk us through it.

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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Offline Jolyon

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It is quite a subtle process so it is difficult to explain but I will attempt to. I have actually been trying to teach a friend to do it to understand it better [kinky??],  so far unsuccessfully.  What it feels like I am doing is tensing the muscles located about an inch below the base of my skull, but very very subtly as if I had a pea between my fingers and was pressing it carefully without squashing it. If the tensing is done in a particular way [which I am really at a loss to describe], it triggers waves of an electrical sensation which is generally a precursor to the goose bumps. These “waves” are quite specific in their movement and direction. They begin at the base of the skull just above the “muscle tensing “area then radiate outwards to my upper back and shoulders, then to my arms and finally my legs [most strongly at the front of my thighs]. It also moves around my head in a wave, like I was putting on a tracksuit hood [but no goose bumps manifest there as far as I can tell except on my neck]. I can increase the intensity of these waves, and therefore the goose bumps, by “pulsing” the neck area I described above but it requires concentration and the “electrical” feeling is not necessarily pleasant. A side effect of this process is an increased heart rate and an adrenaline feeling like I had just been frightened or shocked. I can also create this “adrenaline” feeling independently of the goose bumps but again trying to describe how is tricky and beyond my understanding. Like CANNABINOID I also don’t believe it is a “supernatural” process, it is definitely physiological. I don’t practice yoga or meditate and have a healthy scepticism for many [not all] spiritual practices, but I am pretty in tune with my body and surroundings.  I hope this makes some sort of sense, there are so many other things I want ask which may be cleared up by this, for example I suffer from sleep apnia but do not have the general profile of someone who would normally suffer from this condition and wonder somewhere if my sympathetic nervous system [which I presume should control my breathing whilst asleep], is in some way getting mixed messages from my  conscious nervous system. [maybe I’m just a control freak!]
 

Offline tweener

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quote:
Originally posted by cannabinoid

Many practitioners of arts like yoga or qi gong can do wacky things like slow their heart rates to abnormally low levels, pass things through their bodies that shouldnt pass, or generate heat in localized areas.  

I'm still pretty low on the rungs of my studies in biochemistry and physiology,  (that's for grad school, my nearly-completed undergrad degree is in plain ol' chemistry)  so I don't have a vast understanding of the mechanisms of these skills.  But I can tell you that I spent some time in years past studying qi gong and reiki, and I've seen people do some pretty amazing things to themselves and others.  I don't proclaim any of these things to be supernatural, but I do think that one can mess with biological functions of the body that are supposed to be "automatic."  

Some real research on the validity of holistic healing modalities would make for some kickass graduate thesis work.  If anyone's done any kind of studies that provide evidence either for or against various types of alternative medicine, I'd love to hear about it.



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I too believe in the ability to do many "strange" things that should not be controllable.  I don't believe they are supenatural, but I can't figure out how anyone is going to apply any "scientific" rigor to the study.  Many of these type of things are reproducible by an individual, but not by someone else.  Also, there is often no way to objectively measure the result.  Heartrate would be a notable exception.  

CannI hope you can devise some good studies for your upcoming graduate work.  Good luck!

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Offline Ians Daddy

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quote:
Originally posted by Jolyon

If the tensing is done in a particular way [which I am really at a loss to describe], it triggers waves of an electrical sensation which is generally a precursor to the goose bumps. These “waves” are quite specific in their movement and direction. They begin at the base of the skull just above the “muscle tensing “area then radiate outwards to my upper back and shoulders, then to my arms and finally my legs [most strongly at the front of my thighs]. It also moves around my head in a wave, like I was putting on a tracksuit hood [but no goose bumps manifest there as far as I can tell except on my neck]. I can increase the intensity of these waves,]



Wow, That's almost erotic. It was good for me. Think I'll have a smoke.

Do these "waves" go anywhere else? If so, I'd never leave the house.[:p]

I know people who practice Tantric Yoga describe "waves". I wonder if these are related somehow.

Ouch, my neck is sore and I'm dizzy from trying this.
 

Offline Jolyon

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Hhehehehehehehehehehheheheheheheheheeh!!!!!! Now I understand why you are described as an ADVANCED MEMBER! Unfortunately, mine is merely a JUNIOR so I can't really help you out on the old tantric front. [sorry more dick jokes]. :D
 

Offline Ians Daddy

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Advanced, schmadvanced.....I'm just a "member". Don't let the "advanced" fool ya. I've disappointed more than a few. I married my wife because she couldn't read a ruler. We divorced when someone showed her what six inches realy was. :)
D!ck jokes are as contagious as yawns.
 

Offline Jolyon

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Chris, [or anyone for that matter]
Any thoughts on the sleep apnia idea I raised earlier?  Or am I stabbing wildly in the dark without a knife?
 

Offline chris

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Whilst breathing is an automatic process, upon which we can superimpose voluntary control, the pathways that control breathing are not part of the traditional 'autonomic nervous system' and originate from a respiratory centre in the brainstem. This centre integrates inputs from various sources including chemical receptors which continuously 'taste' the blood to tell how acidic it is and how much oxygen the blood is carrying, sensory receptors from the lungs that tell how inflated they are, sensory signals originating from your limbs that stimulate breathing when you exercise, autonomic inputs which boost the respiratory rate when you are frightened, and voluntary inputs that enable you to take big breaths when asked to do so by the doctor.

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
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