Why Do Screams Make You Shudder?

8:23 minutes

We instinctively know that a scream can make us feel frightened, but exactly how this happens is less well-known. Reporting in Current Biology, neuroscientist David Poeppel and his team found that “roughness”—an audio quality not found in speech—determines the scare factor. Of his research, Poeppel says, “We wanted to go through a whole bunch of sounds to verify that this area is unique to screams.”

Segment Guests

David Poeppel

David Poeppel is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University and the director of the  Department of Neuroscience at the Max-Planck-Institute in Frankfurt, Germany.

Meet the Producer

About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim was a senior producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.