Music Benefits the Cardiovascular System

A LJMU Professor of Psychophysiology has released study results that display that music does affect the cardiovascular system. He found that certain types of music will actually help to lower a person’s blood pressure.

Professor Stephen Fairclough published his results in Physiology and Behavior. As part of his study he placed different groups of people into a simulator that replicated a traffic jam. While they were stuck in the ‘traffic jam’ he tested out different types of music to see how they impacted the moods of those in the study.

The types of mood music covered four distinct types: high activation/positive (energising, feel good), high activation/negative (energising, aggressive), low activation/positive (relaxing, pleasant) and low activation/negative (relaxing sad).  There was also a control group who did not hear any music.  The type of music was personalised to each individual. The study found that that low activation music (either positive or negative) reduced blood pressure during the traffic jam compared to no music or high activation/negative music.

Examples of relaxing/pleasant music included classic Motown hits such as Just My Imagination by the Temptations whereas Brahms’s choral music (Opus 62) characterised music that provoked a mood of relaxation and sadness.

Professor Stephen Fairclough , who is based at the LJMU School of Natural Sciences & Psychology explained:

“Driving represents a common activity in everyday life where the experience and expression of emotions like anger have implications for health and safety. But this can be reduced by environmental factors, including music which is one of the most potent techniques for mood regulation.

“The goal of this project was to develop the next generation of adaptive music players where the playlist can respond to negative mood states that have implications for health in the long-term.”

The paper Effects of mood induction via music on cardiovascular measures of negative emotion during simulated driving is available to download at Science Direct

Further information about Professor Stephen Fairclough and this research is available here