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Immediate physiological responses of healthy volunteers to different types of music: cardiovascular, hormonal and mental changes

Abstract

A group of 20 healthy volunteers [10 women, 10 men; median age 25 (20–33) years] were examined by means of pulsed wave Doppler echocardiography, blood sample analysis and psychological testing before and after listening to three different examples of music: a waltz by J. Strauss, a modern classic by H. W. Henze, and meditative music by R. Shankar. To assess small haemodynamic changes, mitral flow, which reflects left ventricular diastolic behaviour, was measured by Doppler ultrasound. Heart rate, arterial blood pressure and plasma concentrations of adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol, prolactin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) were determined simultaneously. Transmitral flow profile is characterized by early E-wave and late atrial induced A-wave. Velocity-time integrals were measured and the atrial filling fraction was calculated. The mental state was measured by using a psychological score (Zerssen) with low values (minimum 0) for enthusiastic and high values (maximum 56) for depressive patterns. Music by J. Strauss resulted in an increase of atrial filling fraction (AFF; 29% vs 26%;P<0.05) and ANP (63 pg·ml−1 vs 60 pg·ml−1;P<0.05). The mental state was improved (Zerssen: 6.5 vs 11 points;P<0.05). After the music of H. W. Henze prolactin values were lowered (7.7 ng·ml−1 vs 9.1 ng·ml−1;P<0.01). The music of R. Shankar led to a decrease of cortisol concentrations (57 ng·ml−1 vs 65 ng·ml−1;P<0.001), noradrenaline concentrations (209 μg·l−1 vs 256 μg·l−1;P<0.01) andt-PAantigen concentrations (1.1 ng·ml−1 vs 1.4 ng·ml−1;P<0.05). Heart rate and blood pressure remained unchanged during the whole experiment. We concluded that different types of music induced changes of left ventricular diastolic function and plasma hormone concentrations. After rhythmic music (Strauss) AFF and ANP increased significantly, the mental state being improved. Meditative music (Shankar) lowered plasma cortisol, noradrenaline and t-PA concentrations; the observed increase of early left ventricular filling was not statistically significant. Prolactin concentrations decreased after modern music (Henze). Thus, it would seem to be possible to detect cardiovascular changes following different types of music by Doppler ultrasound and hormone analysis, meditative music having promising therapeutic implications in the treatment of conditions of stress.

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This paper contains data from J. Vollert's work for his doctoral degree.

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Möckel, M., Röcker, L., Störk, T. et al. Immediate physiological responses of healthy volunteers to different types of music: cardiovascular, hormonal and mental changes. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 68, 451–459 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00599512

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Key words

  • Doppler mitral flow
  • Left ventricle
  • Diastolic function
  • Noradrenaline concentrations
  • Effects of music