Live mu­sic shown to re­duce stress hor­mones

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY -

For the first time, a study has de­mon strated that at­tend­ing a pub­lic cul tu­ral event can in­duce a mea­sur­able ef­fect on an in­di­vid­ual’s in­ter­nal hor­mone lev­els. The “stress hor­mone” - cor­ti­sol was re­duced across the board, among other in­trigu­ing changes. The ef­fect of live mu­sic on our hor­mone lev­els is de­scribed for the first time.

Of­ten, science takes a lit­tle while to prove things that hu­mans have al­ways be­lieved to be true. This study is a prime ex­am­ple, dove­tail­ing neatly into folk un­der­stand­ing. There are no so­ci­eties on Earth that do not have a mu­si­cal her­itage of some de­scrip­tion.

The pri­mal and emo­tional as­pects of lis­ten­ing to, and tak­ing part in, mu­si­cal pas­times are well­known. Over the decades, the study of mu­sic has ex­panded from a purely analytical in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the mu­sic it­self, to a re­flec­tion on the psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pects of lis­ten­ing to mu­sic.

Then, as tech­nol­ogy ad­vanced, mu­si­cal re­search moved into the bur­geon­ing dis­ci­pline of neu­ro­science, spawn­ing the term “neu­ro­mu­si­col­ogy.” This new field hopes to an­swer ques­tions like - does mu­sic in­flu­ence the mind? Are there mea­sur­able changes in hor­mones? And, most dif­fi­cult of all - why does mu­sic af­fect the brain? Over the last cou­ple of decades, dozens of stud­ies have set out to un­cover the chem­i­cal ef­fect of lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. These stud­ies have mea­sured changes in a num­ber of pa­ram­e­ters in­clud­ing neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, cy­tokines, hor­mones, vi­tal signs, lym­pho­cytes and im­munoglob­u­lins.

A re­view in 2014 by Daisy Fan­court, re­search as­so­ciate at the Cen­tre for Per­for­mance Science in the UK, con­cluded that mu­sic cer­tainly does im­pact a num­ber of bi­o­log­i­cal sys­tems. These stud­ies have al­most ex­clu­sively been con­ducted in clin­i­cal set­tings or lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions, us­ing recorded, rather than live, mu­sic. From a method­olog­i­cal point of view, this makes good sense as it helps to con­trol as many vari­ables as pos­si­ble. Fan­court, how­ever, de­cided to specif­i­cally mea­sure the ef­fects of at­tend­ing a live, pub­lic con­cert on steroid hor­mone lev­els. Could the feel­ings, which we have all ex­pe­ri­enced at some point in our lives, be mea­sured sci­en­tif­i­cally?

For the re­cent study, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors used 117 vol­un­teers from con­cert per­for­mances show­cas­ing the mu­sic of com­poser Eric Whi­tacre. The vol­un­teers were a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sample: some were avid con­cert-go­ers, at­tend­ing more than 100 concerts per year, oth­ers were vis­it­ing a con­cert for the first time in more than 6 months; some of the par­tic­i­pants were mu­si­cians with decades of ex­pe­ri­ence, oth­ers were not mu­si­cal at all. Over the course of two sep­a­rate concerts (of the same mu­sic and du­ra­tion), the re­searchers took saliva sam­ples from the par­tic­i­pants be­fore the per­for­mance and then 60 min­utes later, dur­ing the in­ter­val.

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