Arrectores pilorum
Tiny muscles that act as the hair erector muscles. The arrectores pilorum play a key role in goose bumps, a temporary local change in the skin The chain of events leading to this skin change starts with a stimulus such as cold or fear. That stimulus causes a nerve discharge from the sympathetic nervous system, a portion of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. The nerve discharge causes contraction of the arrectores pilorum (the hair erector muscles). Contraction of these muscles elevates the hair follicles above the rest of the skin. And it is these tiny elevations we perceive as goose bumps. The words used to describe this condition are curious and colorful. “Goose bumps” are listed in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (as two words in the plural). The term entered English in 1933. The word “gooseflesh” (written as one word or as two) is older than “goose bumps.” Gooseflesh dates back to about 1810, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which defines it as “a rough pimply condition of the skin, produced by cold, fear, etc.” A fancier term for this familiar phenomenon is “horripilation.” Horripilation was compounded from the Latin “horrere”, to stand on end + “pilus”, hair = hair standing on end. (If you think “horripilation” sound horrible, you’re right. (The word “horrible” also came from the Latin “horrere” and referred to something that was so awfully dreadfully frightful that it made your hair stand on end.) Medicine does not use a horrible term such as “horripilation” and rarely resorts to the commonplace words, goose bumps or gooseflesh. Medicine has a special term, “cutis anserina”, that sounds like a scary dermatologic diagnosis. But it goes back to the goose again, since “cutis”, skin + “anser”, goose = goose skin. Some biologists believe that goosebumps evolved as part of the fight-or-flight reaction along with heart rate increases that send the heart racing while blood rushes to the muscles to give them additional oxygen. A similar phenomenon, bristling, in fur-covered animals may have made them look larger and more frightening and kept them warmer by increasing the amount of air between hairs which traps body heat. But in people there seems to be no practical purpose for goose bumps except, of course, to make our skin crawl.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Arrectōres pilōrum — Arrectōres pilōrum, s. Gänsehaut …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Musculi arrectores pilorum — plaukų šiaušiamieji raumenys statusas T sritis gyvūnų anatomija, gyvūnų morfologija atitikmenys: lot. Musculi arrectores pilorum ryšiai: platesnis terminas – plaukai …   Veterinarinės anatomijos, histologijos ir embriologijos terminai

  • Musculi arrectores pilorum — Ein Menschenhaar unter dem Mikroskop (Bildausschnitt: 600×400 µm2) Schematischer Querschnitt der menschlichen Haut mit einem Haar …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Erectores pilorum — Arrectores pilorum (singular Arrector pili ) are tiny muscle fibers attached to each hair follicle, which contract to make the hairs stand on end, causing goose bumps. They exist in most mammals including humans. Arrectores pilorum are smooth… …   Wikipedia

  • Мы́шца — ( ы) (musculus, i, PNA, BNA, JNA; син. мускул) орган, обладающий свойством сократимости, обеспечивающий движение того или иного элемента живого организма: состоит преимущественно из поперечнополосатой или гладкой мышечной ткани. Мышца… …   Медицинская энциклопедия

  • Muscle arrecteur — Muscle horripilateur Les muscles horripilateurs sont des muscles lisses situés à la base de chaque poil chez la plupart des mammifères, dont les humains, et qui participent à la thermorégulation. Leur nom latin, également utilisé en anglais, est… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cutis anserina — Better known as goose bumps, a temporary local change in the skin when it becomes rougher due to erection of little muscles, as from cold, fear, or excitement. The chain of events leading to this skin change starts with a stimulus such as cold or …   Medical dictionary

  • Horripilation — Better known as goose bumps, a temporary local change in the skin when it becomes rougher due to erection of little muscles, as from cold, fear, or excitement. The chain of events leading to this skin change starts with a stimulus such as cold or …   Medical dictionary

  • Piloerection — Erection of the hair of the skin. Piloerection of the hair, for example, on the arm makes it stand on end. Piloerection starts when a stimulus such as cold or fright causes a discharge from the (involuntary) nervous system that triggers… …   Medical dictionary

  • Кожа — (cutis) представляет собой общий покров тела, площадь которого достигает 1,5 2,0 м2. В 1 см2 кожи содержится до 300 чувствительных нервных окончаний. Кроме осязательной функции, кожный покров выполняет защитную, предохраняя от повреждений… …   Атлас анатомии человека

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”