We Only Eat What We Like, Part 6 – Music Helps
For references, please see the previous articles, same title.
College students were exposed to: either 30’ of tone/click, or 30’ of silence, or 30’ of Muzak, or 30’ of radio broadcast (rap) [Charnetski et al. 1998]. Saliva samples were collected before/after each exposure. The increase of s-IgA was significant after Muzak only!
An English group [Huckelbridge et al. 2000] examined whether an acute manipulation of mood to induce negative hedonic tone would be downregulatory, as in the chronic stress paradigm and further, whether induction of positive mood might have opposite effects. Two separate experiments were conducted. In the first, mood manipulation was by mental recall and in the second by music. For both sIgA concentration and sIgA secretion rate there was a significant elevation in response to the mood manipulation by recall regardless of hedonic tone. There was some evidence that for sIgA secretion rate the response was more pronounced for positive mood. Mood induction by music also resulted in significant elevations in sIgA concentration and secretion rate and responses were not distinguished by mood valence. None of the mood induction procedures was associated with changes in free cortisol. In these studies, the authors found no evidence that transient lowering of mood was downregulatory for salivary sIgA. The predominant finding was of sIgA mobilization.
Drum circles have been part of healing rituals in many cultures throughout the world since antiquity. Although drum circles are gaining increased interest as a complementary therapeutic strategy in the traditional medical arena, limited scientific data documenting biological benefits associated with percussion activities exist. The group of B.B. Bittman  attempted to determine the role of group-drumming music therapy as a composite activity with potential for alteration of stress-related hormones and enhancement of specific immunologic measures associated with natural killer cell activity and cell-mediated immunity at the Mind-Body Wellness Center, an outpatient medical facility in Meadville, PA. A total of 111 age- and sex-matched volunteer subjects (55 men and 56 women, with a mean age of 30.4 years) were recruited. Six preliminary supervised groups were studied using various control and experimental paradigms designed to separate drumming components for the ultimate determination of a single experimental model, including 2 control groups (resting and listening) as well as 4 group-drumming experimental models (basic, impact, shamanic, and composite). The composite drumming group using a music therapy protocol was selected based on preliminary statistical analysis, which demonstrated immune modulation in a direction opposite to that expected with the classical stress response. The final experimental design included the original composite drumming group plus 50 additional age- and sex-matched volunteer subjects who were randomly assigned to participate in group drumming or control sessions. Group drumming resulted in increased dehydroepiandrosterone-to-cortisol ratios, increased natural killer cell activity, and increased lymphokine-activated killer cell activity without alteration in plasma IL-2 or γ-IFN, or in the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory II. Drumming is a complex composite intervention with the potential to modulate specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune parameters in a direction opposite to that expected with the classic stress response.
A group from McGill University [Blood et al. 2001], in Canada, used positron emission tomography (PET) to study neural mechanisms underlying intensely pleasant emotional responses to music. Cerebral blood flow changes were measured in response to subject-selected music that elicited the highly pleasurable experience of “shivers-down-the-spine” or “chills.” Subjective reports of chills were accompanied by changes in heart rate, electromyogram, and respiration. As intensity of these chills increased, cerebral blood flow increases and decreases were observed in brain regions thought to be involved in reward/motivation, emotion, and arousal, including ventral striatum, midbrain, amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventral medial prefrontal cortex. These brain structures are known to be active in response to other euphoria-inducing stimuli, such as food, sex, and drugs of abuse. This finding links music with biologically relevant, survival-related stimuli via their common recruitment of brain circuitry involved in pleasure and reward.
Music also helps restore vision in stroke patients. Patients who have lost part of their visual awareness following a stroke improve their ability to see when they are listening to music they like. They could identify colored shapes and red lights in their depleted side of vision while they were listening to their preferred music, compared with music they did not like or silence; they also experienced positive emotions. Similar effects may also be gained by making the patients happy in other ways [Soto et al. 2009].
In premature babies a.k.a. preemies music improved feeding; music, with a pacifier-activated lullaby system improved oral feeding among premature infants. Music helps control pain, as measured by heart rate and oxygen saturation, during circumcision [Hartling et al. 2009]. Some even prefer Mozart: premature babies from Tel-Aviv, Israel exposed to 30’Mozart music once daily gained weight faster, became stronger than those who weren’t. After hearing the music, the infants expended less energy. The repetitive melodies of Mozart’s music seem to affect the organizational centers of the brain cortex [Mandel et al. 2010]. (Rap music might have similar effects!!).
But it’s not only music that eases pain in children; watching funny videos does also deliver: 18 children (7-16 yrs) watched humorous videos before, during and after a standardized pain task (placing a hand in cold water). Pain appraisal and pain tolerance were recorded and examined in relation to humor indicators. The group demonstrated significantly greater pain tolerance while viewing funny videos [Stuber et al 2007].