Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Effect of different frequencies of music on blood pressure regulation in spontaneously hypertensive rats

Reference: Akiyama, Kayo and Den'etsu Sutoo. "Effect of different frequencies of music on blood pressure regulation in spontaneously hypertensive rats." Neuroscience Letters (January 2011), 487 (1), pg. 58-60. Web. 15 Nov 2011.

Mozart's music might not make you smarter, but perhaps it can lower your blood pressure. A study undertaken at the University of Tsukuba indicated that rats who were exposed to Mozart's Adagio from Divertimento No. 7 (K. 205) experienced a lowering of blood pressure for 1-8 hours.

All of the rats used in this study were twelve weeks old, male, and purchased from the same source. Before the study began, the rats were kept in a well-regulated environment for a week (room temperature, twelve hours light/twelve hours dark, plenty of food and water). At the start of the study, all of the rats who were to be exposed to music were exposed to an unfiltered recording of K. 205 which was repeated for ten hours. At the end of the ten hours, the blood pressure of the rats was observed to have been lowered.

Next, the rats were separated into three groups and exposed to music filtered by iTunes to play low frequencies (32-125 Hz), middle frequencies (250-2k Hz), and high frequencies (4k-16k Hz). Blood pressure levels stayed basically the same in the rats exposed to low frequencies, but dropped in the rats exposed to high frequencies (the same as in the unfiltered music) and middle frequencies (less than unfiltered and high frequency music). Akiyama and Sutoo believe that it may be the high frequency sounds prevalent in Mozart's music that have an effect on brain function in terms of blood pressure changes as well as alleviating symptoms of depression, epilepsy, and senile dementia.

There are two things one should keep in mind in interpreting the results of this study: first of all, music is only noise to animals; second, this study was funded in part by the Yamaha Music Foundation in Japan. This study is an interesting way to begin one's own exploration of the idea that blood pressure can be managed by listening to music.

As much as I appreciate what pharmaceutical drugs can do for us, I prefer not to use medication whenever possible. Many of us know people who take drugs to lower their blood pressure, and probably most of those people take other medications for other health issues as well. Some might need to add another type of pill to the cocktail to counteract the side effects of one or more of the drugs their doctors prescribe. This gets expensive and can be dangerous.

Could we treat high blood pressure with music instead of pills? I'm all for hearing a doctor say, "take two sonatas and call me in the morning."

1 comment:

Katie said...

I really enjoyed this post, if not for the information but for the reflection by the reviewer. I agree that we need to keep in mind who funded this study and that we are working with animals. How do we know the only variable that was changed was the music? The scientists tried to control all of the external factors but we have no idea what internal factors could have been at stake. Essentially, we don’t know if the music was the reason for the decreased blood pressure.
But I think the more common question is who cares if Mozart lowers blood pressure? If listening to Mozart calms you down then yes, listening may have a positive affect on your blood pressure. But meditation may as well. Or walking the dog. I guess my point is that whatever you do to relax, be it Mozart or Maroon 5, it is for your own wellness and heart health. If you are experiencing positive side effects from your life style choices then keep it up!