Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Melody modulates choir members' heart rate

Date:
July 8, 2013
Source:
Frontiers
Summary:
When people sing in a choir their heart beats are synchronized, so that the pulse of choir members tends to increase and decrease in unison.

When people sing in a choir their heart beats are synchronised, so that the pulse of choir members tends to increase and decrease in unison.
Credit: © Glenda Powers / Fotolia

When people sing in a choir their heart beats are synchronised, so that the pulse of choir members tends to increase and decrease in unison. This has been shown by a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg that examined the health effects for choir members.

In the research project "Kroppens Partitur" (The Body's Musical Score), researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy are studying how music, in purely biological terms, affects our body and our health. The object is to find new forms where music may be used for medical purposes, primarily within rehabilitation and preventive care.

In the latest study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the research group is able to show how the musical structure influences the heart rate of choir members.

In December 2012, Björn Vickhoff and his research group brought together fifteen 18-year-olds at Hvitfeltska High School in Gothenburg and arranged for them to perform three different choral exercises: monotone humming, singing the well-known Swedish hymn "Härlig är Jorden" (Lovely is the Earth) as well as the chanting of a slow mantra. The heart rhythm of the choir members was registered as they performed in each case.

The results from the study show that the music's melody and structure has a direct link is linked to the cardiac activity of the individual choir member; to sing in unison has a synchronising effect so that the heart rate of the singers tends to increase and decrease at the same time.

"Singing regulates activity in the so-called vagus nerve which is involved in our emotional life and our communication with others and which, for example, affects our vocal timbre. Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga. In other words, through song we can exercise a certain control over mental states," explains Björn Vickhoff, lead author of the study.

Choral singing's positive effects on health and well-being are testified by many, although it has only been studied scientifically to a lesser extent. The researchers' hypothesis is that the health effects arise through singing "imposing" a calm and regular breathing pattern which has a dramatic effect on heart rate variability -- something that, in its turn, is assumed to have a favourable effect on health.

"In the case of controlled breathing, the heart rate or pulse decreases when breathing out during exhalation in order to then increase again when breathing in during inhalation. This is due to breathing out Exhalation activates the vagus nerve that lowers the heart rate which slows down the heart. The medical term for this fluctuation in heart rate the connection between breathing and heart rate is RSA and it is more pronounced with young people in good physical condition and not subject to stress. Our hypothesis is that song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out exhaling occurs on the song phrases and breathing in inhaling between these," says Björn Vickhoff.

"We already know that choral singing synchronises the singers' muscular movements and neural activities in large parts of the body. Now we also know that this applies to the heart, to a large extent."

The research group now wishes to investigate whether the biological synchronising of the choral singers also creates a shared mental perspective which could be used as a method for strengthening the ability to collaborate.

Wherever acting and singing in unison takes place there is a link Collective acting and singing is often an expression of a collective will, according to Björn Vickhoff. "One need only think of football stadiums, work songs, hymn singing at school, festival processions, religious choirs or military parades. Research shows that synchronised rites contribute to group solidarity. We are now considering testing choral singing as a means of strengthening working relationships in schools," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Frontiers. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Björn Vickhoff, Helge Malmgren, Rickard Åström, Gunnar Nyberg, Seth-Reino Ekström, Mathias Engwall, Johan Snygg, Michael Nilsson, and Rebecka Jörnsten. Music determines heart rate variability of singers. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2013 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00334

Cite This Page:

Frontiers. "Melody modulates choir members' heart rate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130708200153.htm>.
Frontiers. (2013, July 8). Melody modulates choir members' heart rate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130708200153.htm
Frontiers. "Melody modulates choir members' heart rate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130708200153.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Sorry, Guys, Only Women Can Make Their Voices Sound Sexier

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2014) — According to researchers at Albright College, women have the ability to make their voices sound sexier, but men don't. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins