In a unique way, nephrologist Michael field teaches medical students to interpret different heart murmurs through stethoscope, vibrato, beautiful notes and fading sounds, so as to describe the unique sound of sudden closure of dirty valves in the heart pipeline disease center and outflow of blood through leaking valves.
In addition, in the music based on the ECG track of arrhythmia, Elaine chew, an American musician mathematician, uses music notation to capture the characteristic rhythm of cardiac electrical abnormalities. Brubeck’s blue Rondo La Turk is a collage of existing music clips matching the heartbeat, providing a 2:4:3 rhythm tattoo of ventricular premature beats. Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango mix produces an irregular rhythm of atrial fibrillation. The teaching description of piano etude made by cardiologist pier Lambiase provides an introduction to cardiac electrical distortion.
These heart sound mappings are effective because abnormal heart rhythms often form a simple beat interval ratio. In fact, Beethoven’s unique rhythms are so similar to arrhythmias that cardiologists speculate that these rhythms may be a replica of Beethoven’s possible arrhythmias, and his perception of his heartbeat is enhanced by deafness.
This is just one of many reasons why music should be part of every cardiologist’s kit. Music and mind are romantically linked in public consciousness because they have a common connection with human emotion and brain. History is full of exciting events, followed by almost one person’s death. Before John Hunter, a surgeon, collapsed and died after a fierce board meeting, he had a famous saying: “my life is at the mercy of any scoundrel who makes me fall into passion.”.
Cardiologists Peter Taggart and pier Lambiase have been studying how emotions change the conduction characteristics of individual heart cells. Mental stress changes the recovery period of heart cells after each heartbeat, which is called action potential duration. Taggart co authored a study in which patients with stable cardiac pacing viewed the painful “rope cutting” scene from the vertical limit (2000). The duration of action potential was shortened under stress. This may explain why more extreme stress combined with potential heart disease can lead to life-threatening arrhythmias.
Acute stress can have a significant impact on the heart, but the slow burning chronic stress caused by long-term insecurity can also make patients vulnerable to disease and death. When safety is perceived, the default high vigilance state of the sympathetic nervous system is inhibited; These safety brakes are lifted under duress. The generalized stress insecurity theory co authored by psychophysiologist Julian Thayer links the unconscious insecurity of long-term stressors (such as low social status, early life adversity or loneliness) with excessive stress that increases the risk of heart disease.
Part of the reason music moves us is that it takes advantage of our primitive intuition about the heartbeat. It was not until the mechanical metronome replaced the human heartbeat in the mid-19th century that it became the standard measurement unit of music time. Composer and theorist franchinus gaffurius wrote in his paper the practical music in 1496 that the correct measurement of music beat should be the pulse of healthy people, and pointed out that the pulse of “fever” will increase or become unequal in a way that worries doctors.
When we connect to the pulse of music, we feel the physiological state of another person. The steady rhythm at the beginning of Schubert trio work 100 sets a strong and calm rhythm for its lingering melody. The octave of shortness of breath in the opening chapter of delkkernig aroused the heartbeat of the feverish boy in his father’s arms. He galloped past on a stormy night. In a study co authored by musician and scientist grace Leslie, it was found that listening only to heartbeat and pulse music can improve the listener’s ability to perceive the feelings of others.
Music changes our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, changes our heart rate variability, and indicators of heart and mental health. Neuroscientist psyche Loui and his colleagues tracked the physiological changes caused by music and found that a central node in the brain network is called the anterior insula, which is closely connected with the vagus nerve and is responsible for unconsciously regulating body functions.
The anterior part of the insula is related to the empathic mirror image of external and internal experience. It is also connected to the parts of the brain responsible for hearing (auditory cortex) and pleasure (dopaminergic reward system). These auditory and reward network pathways are likely to serve the brain’s ability to form prediction and expectation in the process of listening to music. Systematic realization and violation of expectations are considered to be the basis of emotion and meaning in music.
In the study of heart and brain, music is an ideal catalyst to induce physiological changes, because it can be systematically decomposed into various characteristics according to the content of notes and the way these contents are conveyed in performance. There is evidence that these musical attributes trigger the brain’s response at a basic level. When Michael Casey, a composer neuroscientist, analyzed the brain imaging data of listeners in the Forrest data set by open functional magnetic resonance imaging, he found that specific music characteristics will produce predictable activation patterns in the brain regions of listeners. The consistency of the activation mode is sufficient for the machine to infer the music or its type heard by the listener only from the fMRI scan.
Musical characteristics are also related to physiological reactions. In a study by doctors Luciano Bernardi and Peter Slater, increased vocal and orchestral volume led to vasoconstriction, and the increase in blood pressure was proportional to these increases. There is a 10 second phrase Mayer wave cycle in Verdi arias. The natural blood pressure fluctuation of the body synchronizes the listener’s heart and respiratory signals with the music envelope. This unconscious physiological response is considered to be the ancestor of music induced emotion.
Music also has a common impact on human physiology. People who listen to the same music will not only synchronize their movements, but also synchronize their breathing and heartbeat. This heartbeat coherence is partly due to breathing together, but even after eliminating the effects of breathing, the partial coherence (linear relationship) between the heartbeats of people who make long notes together is still higher than that of baseline or breathing together.
The cognitive and physical needs of playing music also have measurable effects on musicians’ heart rhythm and breathing patterns. Psychologists Caroline Palmer and Shannon Wright have shown that when playing unfamiliar musical melodies and when waking up in the morning rather than playing the first thing at night, musicians’ rhythm repeatability shows greater rigidity (predictability).
For patients with heart disease, music based intervention can also regulate cerebral blood flow, reduce preoperative anxiety and postoperative pressure, improve surgical results and reduce cortisol levels. The study found that music intervention had a significant effect on heart rate and blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease. In patients with heart attack, listening to relaxing music will not only reduce the heart and respiratory rate, but also reduce the heart’s oxygen demand.
The technical progress of biofeedback sensor means that physiological parameters such as heartbeat and heart rate variability can be used to guide music intervention in cardiac therapy. Physiological feedback can be used to select or shape music to affect the listener’s heart rate and breathing, for example, to increase heart rate variability. With the wide use of biofeedback devices, music interventions customized according to personal cognition or neurocardiac state are now within reach, so as to provide a “music prescription” for improving physical and mental health.
This is a viewpoint and analysis article; The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
This article was developed from the exploratory multidisciplinary Seminar on music and heart at the Radcliffe Institute for advanced study of Harvard University. The participants included physicians, neuroscientists and musicians with special interest in music and its impact on human physiology.
The work of the European Commission and PDL is partly supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the EU horizon 2020 research and Innovation Programme (Grant agreements 788960 and 957532).
The work of El was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in NSF STRTI phase I grant no. 2014870. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or suggestions expressed in this material are the opinions, findings, conclusions or suggestions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, findings, conclusions or suggestions of the funding agency.