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Friday, May 20, 2011

Research - Effect of Music on Heart Rate

This project studies the heart rate variability and psychological responses due to exposure to various genres of music. Subjects to be used are 20 undergraduate students at Miami University between the ages of 18 and 25. The pieces of music to be used are ÒSymphony Number 5: IIIÓ by Dmitri Shostakovich, ÒSprits DriftingÓ by Brian Eno, ÒBlackest Eyes,Ó by Porcupine Tree, ÒWar Machine,Ó by Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus, and ÒImaginary Places,Ó by Bus Driver. The five songs will be tested on each subject for duration of three minutes with an interval of two minutes between each kind of music. The heart rate will be brought to the resting rate before experimenting with the next genre of music. We speculate that slow music will lower the heart rate and bring the psychological sense in a state of low tension and stress while songs with fast beats and high pitches increased the rate of the heartbeat. The positive effect of slow music will be an apparent tool to reduce anxiety and stress in patients after a surgery and can be used as an adjuvant in their treatment.


An alternative method of healing exists, known as holistic medicine, that may be more effective than the "over the counter drugs" commonly used in society today. Holistic--from the Greek root holos, meaning wholeÑmedicine, the practice of making the body whole, ÒÉis part of a worldview, which promises to achieve societal change through respect for the individual and for the contribution of diversity to an integrative model of healing. It includes, but is not limited to, nutrition, herbal medicine, spinal manipulation and body work medicine, "energy medicine," spiritual attunement, relaxation training and stress management, biofeedback and acupunctureÓ (AHMA). In holistic medicine, physical, mental, and spiritual ailments are treated.

Relaxation training and stress management exist as fundamental treatments in holistic medicine because they involve directly all three types of ailments. Traditionally, relaxation and stress has been measured by fluctuations in heart rate. The heart is a vital organ in the human body. Though only the size of the fist, it pumps blood to the rest of the body by rhythmic expansion and relaxation. The frequency of this cardiac cycle is measured through heart rate. The heart rate is the number of contractions (beats) of the heart in a minute (Bianco 1-6).

Previous experiments involving heart rate have used music as an alternative technique to induce relaxation or stress. Earlier studies made show that music may influence heart rate and respiration, however, all of these experiments have used small numbers of subjects. In the early 1900Õs Shoen and Soibelman showed that there was a correlation between music and heart rate by the increase in the rate while listening to different types of music (Schoen 1-449, Soibelman 103-108). An experiment by Ellis and Brighouse was completed on The Effect of Music on Respiration and Heart Rate. They tested how different genres of music effected 36 college studentsÕ respiration and heart rate. Each genre of music caused slight increases in both respiration and heart rates among the students. Therefore, concluding that music is an effective therapeutic agent if the desired effect is an increase in either respiration or heart rate (Ellis and Brighouse 39-47).

Although Ellis and Brighouse did not find music decreasing heart rate, there experiment did show a correlation between music and heart rate. This correlation has a wide scope in the medical field. By implementing a natural method of relaxation rather than taking pills to soothe the mind, humans can create a holistic body. The natural system of medication evolves from India in the form of Ayurveda and Yunani where plant extracts such as Neem and Tulasi are used to cure various sicknesses. Treatment has evolved from natural methods to medication in the form of chemical pills. However, there is still an underlying natural method of cure amidst the emerging trend of medical treatment. Finding how music effects heart rate may help to relieve stress and put the mind and body in a state of calm. Music has an arousal effect, which is related to its frequency and tempo. Logically, slow or meditative music may induce a relaxing effect and cause relaxation. In measuring how different genres of music affect the heart rate of human beings, we intend to discover if there is a type of music that will lower the heart rate. We propose that different types of music will increase or decrease the heart rate.

Specific Research Design

We will be measuring the heart rates of each subject to determine the effect of music on cardiovascular activity. In order to do this, we first must measure, using a heart rate monitor, the resting heart rate of the subject, as the control. As a heart rate can fluctuate and a heart-rate monitor tracks the contractions of the heart in real-time and calculates an estimated heartbeats per minute, we will take three (3) measurements and calculate an average. This resulting average is the heart rate that the subjectÕs heart rate must reach before exposure to each genre of music.

Prior to experimentation, the subjects will be asked to rank preferentially the five genres of music to be used in the experiment: classical, ambient, rock, metal, and rap. The subject will be asked to specify their physical activity. As a higher level of physical fitness will result in a lower fluctuation of heart rate and a faster recovery time, it might prove statistically beneficial to be aware of this information for each subject. The subject will sign up for an appointment to be tested. Once they arrive for their scheduled time, only the tester(s) and the subject will be in the room, so as to eliminate any distractions. The subject will be lying down with a heart rate monitor attached and the tester will hold the receiver to record all of his/her findings (see attached data/consent form). Each piece of music will be administered to the subject through headphones via an Apple iPod¨.

The third movement of Dmitri ShostakovichÕs Symphony Number 5 will be used for classical music. A 20th century modern composer, his works tend to emulate the style of his predecessors and create a phonic often indistinguishable and genericÑthis will eliminate any particular attachment that a subject might possess with a certain composerÕs style. ÒSpirits DriftingÓ by Brian Eno from his album Another Green World (1979) will be used for ambience. Eno is recognised as the first creator of ambient electronica, an avant-garde genre of music focused on atmospheric horizontal composition rather than rigid structure or focus on harmony, resulting in more naturally flowing stream-of-consciousness works. They will not know the songs that they will hear beforehand, and the songs chosen are intended to be obscure so that prior experience with the song will not introduce lurking variables. For rock, we will be using ÒBlackest EyesÓ by Porcupine Tree, from their album In Absentia (2001). A British progressive rock song, ÒBlackest EyesÓ combines many elements found in modern rock music, including pristine production, use of syncopation and odd-time metres, subtle complex harmonies, technicality, and transitions between acoustic and electric sections. For metal we will be using ÒWar MachineÓ by Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus, an underground ÒgrindcoreÓ avant-garde metal band. Using visceral vocals, aggressive drumming and rhythmic foundation, and deliberate use of atonality and tempo changes, they exemplify most subsets of the metal genre. For rap, we will be exposing the subjects to ÒImaginary PlacesÓ by Bus Driver, from Temporary Forever (2003). His unorthodox style of rapping typically is shunned by mainstream media for use of his combined elements of vocal jazz, straight rap, and spoken word.

Before being exposed to the experimental genres of music, the subjects will hear a jazz song, ÒIt Might As Well Be Spring,Ó by Brad Mehldau from the album Introducing Brad Meldau. This song will have no data associated with it; rather, it will serve as a ÔdummyÕ to eliminate any initial shock the subjects might encounter when first initiating the experiment.

Each song will begin once the subject achieves resting heart rate, and will commence to play for three (3) minutes. The order of exposure will be classical, ambient, rock, metal, and rap, preceding all of which will be the jazz ÔdummyÕ song. At intervals of fifty (50) seconds, the reading of the heart rate monitor, which the subject will be wearing, will be recorded, with a maximum total of three (3) readings. These readings will be averaged and analyzed statistically after data collection is complete.

Once all of the data is allocated, we will use significance tests to determine whether or not any of the genres of music had a statistically significant effect (a = 0.05) on the heart rate of the subject, and furthermore, if their music preferences impacted their cardiovascular reactions to the exposure of each genre of music.
The null hypothesis states that the heart rate of a subject for each genre equals the resting heart rate. Thus, if the data is statistically significant, it would suggest that a genre of music on a level greater than random chance, affects the heart rate of a subject. A second statistical method, drawn from the preferences of each subject will analyze the variability of heart rate among the different genres and determine if this could be predicted accurately knowing only a subjectÕs music preferences.


1 comment:

  1. Great posts. I LOVE your blog.

    Mandy, Bethesda, MD