A number of studies have shown that music affect emotions and mood states as well as performance. Other studies have demonstrated the effect of music on physiological measures such as galvanic skin response, vasoconstriction, muscle tension, immune system response, respiration rate, heart rate variability, pulse rate and blood pressure. Music has been used to facilitate anaesthesia during pregnancy and labour, reduce stress and discomfort associated with surgical and dental procedures, relieve anxiety and depression in coronary care units and promote recovery from heart attacks. It has also been shown that listening to different types of music can lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline and increase levels of atrial natriuretic peptide a potent anti hypertensive hormone produced by the atria of the heart.
Brain anatomy researchers have postulated that music affects brain function in at least tow ways: it acts as a nonverbal medium that can move through the auditory cortex directly to the limbic system (an important part of the emotional response system); and it may stimulate the release of endorphins, thereby allowing these polypeptides to act on specific brain receptors. This theory is supported by direct recording of neuronal discharge rates while listening to music.
It is well recognised that mental and emotional activity can alter Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) function. Similarly it has been shown that the ANS profoundly affects cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and immune system function. It has been suggested that the immunosuppression known to occur during negative emotional states such as bereavement, depression and anger and the immuneoenhancement associated with positive emotional states such as care and compassion may be mediated, in part, by the ANS.
Because music can alter mood and emotional states, it is likely that the immune and hormonal changes seen after subjects listen to music are mediated by the ANS.
The term ‘designer music’ was introduced by the music industry to describe a new genre of music designed to affect the listener in specific ways. Research and clinical studies have shown that designer music produces significant effects in physiological and psychological status.