Piloerection (known as goosebumps) is mediated by activation of alpha-adrenergic receptors within the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. The study of piloerection is important in multiple fields, from emotion studies to nervous system pathology. This makes piloerection particularly relevant to emotions research. Despite wide-ranging applications, current methods for measuring piloerection are laborious and qualitative. The goal of this study is to build a wearable piloerection sensor through the use of straight-line lasers and photoresistors. The study analyzed methods of detecting and measuring goosebumps, and applied the method of laser scattering as a detection method. This device was designed and tested against a population of seven Arizona State University students. Goosebumps were elicited through conditions of cold, and video clips meant to elicit emotions of awe and sadness. Piloerection was then quantified through two controls of self-identification and camera recording, as well as the new detection method. These were then compared together, and it was found that subjective methods of determining goosebumps did not correlate well with objective measurements, but that the two objective measurements correlated well with one another. This shows that the technique of laser scattering can be used to detect goosebumps and further developments on this new detection method will be made. Moreover, the presence of uncorrelated subjective measurements further shows the need for an objective measurement of piloerection, while also bringing into question other factors that may be confused with the feeling of piloerection, such as chills or shivers. This study further reaffirmed previous studies showing a positive correlation between intense emotions.
- Piloerection Sensor: Insight into Autonomic Function