Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Body Responds to Changes in Musical Rhythms

Study finds that blood pressure, heart rate and skin vasomotion all affected

23 june 2009 -- Regardless of individual musical preference, changes in musical tempo cause autonomic respiratory and cardiovascular responses, according to a study published on June 22 in Circulation.

Luciano Bernardi, M.D., of Pavia University in Italy, and colleagues conducted a study of 24 young healthy adults, of whom 12 were choristers and 12 were not musicians. The subjects listened to a selection of music with different tempos, as well as silence, in random order while their heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, skin vasomotion, and middle cerebral artery flow velocity were measured.

In both the musician and the non-musician groups, there was a significant correlation between respiratory and cardiovascular signals and the musical profile of vocal and orchestral crescendos, notably in terms of blood pressure and skin vasoconstriction, the investigators discovered. Uniform emphasis in the music produced skin vasodilation and a lowering of blood pressure, the researchers found.

"An externally driven autonomic modulation could be of practical use to induce body sensation (e.g., increase in heart rate or by skin vasoconstriction), which might finally reach the level of consciousness or at least create a continuous stimulus to the upper brain centers," the authors write. "This may better explain the efficacy of music in pathological conditions such as stroke, and it opens new areas for music therapy in rehabilitative medicine."

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