Italian researchers at Pavia University seem to enjoy conducting researching on how music affects human beings. One the first studies that the concluded was on how music with quicker tempos effected a person’s breathing may causing them to breath faster, with an increase in their heart rate and blood pressure, whilst music that had a slower tempo produced the opposite effect.
Their latest findings prove how music affects a person’s cardiovascular system. In a statement by Dr. Luciano Bernardi, a professor of internal medicine at Pavia University, and author of the study, said that the findings “increase our understanding of how music could be used in rehabilitative medicine.”
Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, has already done his own research on assessing the cardiovascular effects of music and is placing that knowledge to good medical use. Miller was quoted as saying:
“The take-home message from this paper is now being employed at many hospitals, including ours. In the cardiovascular unit, we play music that is very soothing and quiet. On a subconscious level, it produces a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate.”
However there are a few subtle differences between Dr Miller’s research and Dr Bernardi’s research. The study conducted by Pavia University played only classical music, with a mixture of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a Bach cantata, and arias from operas by Puccini and Verdi. The two dozen volunteers who were measured for the musical effects on their cardiovascular systems were in their mid-20s who listened to the music via headphones. It is interesting to note that half of the numbers of volunteers were also trained singers.
Electrocardiograms and skin monitor readings evidenced that a crescendo, a climatic volume of music, was invigorating, while decrescendos had more calming effects. All in all, these effects were subtle but still quite noticeable.
In comparison, Dr Miller said of his study, which he conducted in Maryland: “In our studies, volunteers selected music that made them feel good or feel bad. Our belief is that cardiovascular reactions to music are amplified by emotional responses. Our results were not inconsistent with these findings.”
Spokesman for the American Heart Association and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, Barry A. Franklin, deemed the study conducted by Pavia University as “fascinating”:
“They were able to see modest changes in all variables. As a clinician, one who works with people with cardiovascular disease, I ask, can we extrapolate or generalize to clinical populations? I see some potentially very exciting research and clinical applications to people with disabilities, where modest changes could have very significant salutatory effects. If they listen to music through headphones while they exercise, can we get better changes on such measures as oxygen flow and blood pressure?”
It is good to note, however, that those people, with whom Franklin works with, actually conduct their exercise routine on treadmills or stationary bicycles and without any music at all. “I might implement a small pilot program on these subjects, not at rest but while they exercise. Are their responses altered by simultaneous music? These are debilitated coronary patients in whom small changes might be important,” he said.
The spokesman for the American Music Therapy Association, Al Bumanis, said that the effects of music therapy is currently being tested on people who are presently in cardiovascular rehabilitation, or have suffered a brain injury of some sort, as well as premature babies among others as well.
“One logical next step would be to encourage interdisciplinary research with relevant clinical populations receiving specific music therapy interventions.”
As a precautionary note, drivers are now also being warned that listening to loud music can also hamper their reaction times too. A study conducted in Canada found that drivers took 20% longer to perform physical and mental tasks when they were listening to loud music. This slowed reaction could lead to fatal accidents behind the wheel of a car.
In another study conducted by the RAC Foundation, a British motoring organization, it was found that drivers who listened to loud music with more than 60 beats per minute whilst driving, were also twice as likely to skip a red light.
Regardless of whether you chose to listen to classical, opera, pop or rave music, it is the loudness of the music and the beats per minute that count against a driver’s reaction time.
Photo Credit: DeclanTM