Skin ish Mom Column

#Skinish Mom – There’s more to Skin Tingling than Scarlett Johansson

On 20 December 2014, the research paper by Melanie L. Shoup-Knox Ph.D. titled Physiological changes in response to hearing female voices recorded at high fertility was reported on The Telegraph. It was further reported by The Daily Mail, Medical Daily amongst others. The gist is that voices of females recorded at their most fertile period produced the greatest increase in galvanic skin response. 

Put simply – Fertile women electrify the skin of men (and other women too!)

Wait a minute, why would women be attracted to women? It’s got nothing to do with LGBT but Dr Melanie’s interview response in The Telegraph was “Women, on the other hand, may get a competitive advantage from detecting the fertility status of other females.’’

What’s all this to do with Scarlett Johansson? Well, she has a deep, supposedly sexy voice, attractive enough for Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix) to fall in love with (Samantha, the intelligent OS) and we all listened in for 126 minutes of the movie Her.

Skinish Mom Cartoon Columnist Skin Tingling Men

So, what’s Not About Scarlett Johansson? You see (or rather feel), tingling is more likely due to medical condition than physical attraction. The ‘news angle’ when this study came up was female voice, fertility and reproduction. But Skinish Mom’s focus is on skin. Surely, there’s more to skin tingling than mating. Here’s a list of the possible medical conditions:

Anxiety attack – Case in point: If you get anxious after drinking caffeine, there’s higher autonomic arousal meaning higher heart rate and skin conductance level.

Arsenic attack – It’s no joke if you’re a copper smelting worker. The higher arsenic air level leads to tingling in the legs.

Anaesthetics attack – There are studies of tingling after local anesthetics’ use, especially in dentistry. Btw, epidural also results in paresthesia in up to 20% of patients, well, I’m the lucky 1 out of 5.

Carpal tunnel syndrome



Multiple Sclerosis


Transient ischemic attack (TIA) aka mini-stroke

You get the point, it’s not about Scarlett Johansson. There’s no need to list a full possible list of medical conditions, though if you are experiencing tingling and fear it’s more than the passing pins and needles, read PubMed Health.

Educational note 1: Tingling is medically known as Paresthesia, defined as an abnormal body sensation, such as numbness, tingling, or burning.

Educational note 2: Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) is the measurement of skin electrical conductance.

Side note 1: I really like the movie Her from beginning to middle but find it too boring to reach the end. So I never knew the ending!

Side note 2: I discovered a very cool gal Samara O’Shea, who launched a letter-writing service in 2005, way before the movie Her – read Samara’s take on Her.

Side note 3: Why would anyone study women’s voice? Well, everyone’s interest is different and that’s how our society progresses. We can’t all be the financiers who brought down Wall Street. Dr Melanie’s interest is in evolutionary psychology and her other studies were on yawning. Yawning induces brain cooling and thus linked to medical conditions affecting cranial-facial blood circulation. Gotcha (yawning).

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