For many years, music has been associated with positive impacts on human beings vis-a-vis reducing stress levels. Specifically, many studies have established that music could be utilised to alleviate anxiety and reduce heart rate in contexts that are exemplified by clinical laboratory events (Brattico et al. 2003; Sokhadze 2007).
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Nowadays, clinicians use songs to help patients to cope with pain that is associated with some medical procedures. Some studies have also correlated the use of melodies with elimination of clinical symptoms that typify some disorders, for example, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease (Nilsson 2008; Sokhadze 2007). However, some scientists are controversial with regard to the health benefits of songs, such as stress reduction.
Due to the controversy, some studies have been conducted to evaluate the benefits of melodies in relation to helping patients with dementia. It is worth noting that several methodological weaknesses have been identified (Sokhadze 2007).
It is evident that better research designs would be required to help scholars to evaluate and decipher the effects of songs on human behaviour. In fact, such studies would focus on understanding both physiological and psychological impacts of music (Brattico et al. 2003).
Many researchers have attempted to correlate physiological effects with melodies. For example, it is known that “affective visual and auditory stimulation could be linked to music” (Sokhadze 2007, p. 37). Stimuli that are intended to result in visual and audio effects have been shown to cause changes that are detectable by CNS and ANS.
However, few studies have been conducted to evaluate physiological changes that exemplify both CNS and ANS when both audio and visual mechanisms of the body are initiated. On the contrary, many scholars have concentrated on understanding either ANS or CNS mechanisms with regard to music (Sokhadze 2007).
That notwithstanding, it is essential to note that emotional reactions that are linked to the functions of affective pictures have been studied widely. Generally, specific physiological measures, such as brain activity parameters, and duo dimensions of feelings have been correlated (Sokhadze 2007).
Inconsistent results have also been reported in relation to cardiovascular responses to melodies. In fact, it could be concluded that most of the inconsistencies could be caused by methodological variations that happen during music selection. For example, Knight and Richard (2001) note that blood pressure could be reduced when people listen to sedative music.
The relationship between melodies and the activities of the cortical region of the brain has been reported (Brattico et al. 2003). Brattico and colleagues (2003) argue that songs can cause calming and stimulating effects on the brain, which results from the extent to which the cortical region is activated by music stimuli.
A study Sokhadze (2007) showed that music could have negative and/or positive, which could result in modulatory impacts on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. However, it was demonstrated that the impacts of pleasant songs showed a high level of variability in relation to parameters such as heart rate and peripheral blood flow.
Brattico, E, Jacobsen, T, Baene, W, Nakai, N, & Tervaniemi, M, 2003, ‘Electrical brain responses to descriptive versus evaluative judgments of music’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 999, no. 1, pp. 155-157.
Knight, WE, & Rickard, NS, 2001, ‘Relaxing music prevents stress-induced increases in subjective anxiety, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate in healthy males and females’, Journal of music therapy, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 254-272.
Nilsson, U, 2008, ‘The anxiety-and pain-reducing effects of music interventions: a systematic review’, AORN journal, vol. 87, no. 4, pp. 780-807.
Sokhadze, EM, 2007, ‘Effects of music on the recovery of autonomic and electrocortical activity after stress induced by aversive visual stimuli’, Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 31-50.