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Effect of Music on Heart Rate | Experiment

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  • Daniella Urteaga

Background Information:

The heart is a vital organ made of cardiac muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. Heart rate is associated with the contraction of the different chambers of the heart, and is considered myogenic. As a result, the heart beat is controlled independently of the central nervous system and is instead controlled by the pacemaker, also known as the Sino arterial node. The node sends signals through nerves in the heart to other nodes such as the AV or atrio-ventricular node and these result in the contraction of the chambers (Copeland, 1991). Heart rate is the number of heart beats per unit of time, typically expressed in beats per minute or bpm. The average heart rate at rest under normal conditions of adolescents and adults is 63.3 bpm ± 13.1 bpm, with variability of 3.2 bpm ± 2.1 (Leschka, 2006). Other factors also have an influence on the heart beat and heart rate such as the medulla of the brain of the hormone adrenaline.

External stimuli or external factors also result in alterations of the heart rate. These include physical and emotional factors. One type of external stimuli that is shown to have effects on the heart rate is sound, specifically music. Music is currently being considered to be used as therapy for coronary conditions as well as on anxiety (Smolen et al, 2002). In addition, music is widely prevalent in the lives of adolescents. Teenagers in this day are age are exposed to music on a regular basis and a majority of adolescents living in the United States own mp3 or I-Pods (Epperson, 2011). Also, there are music therapies available for autistic patients that show improvement in their communication skills and behavior over time because of the certain music played in the therapy session.

Sound has been shown to have effects on the heart rate. The average volume at which adolescents listen to music is 80 decibels which is approximately 80% volume on a music player using standard headphones (Epperson, 2011). Increasing volume has been shown to increase the heart rate, and decreasing volume has been shown to lower the heart rate (Okamoto, 2011). In addition, studies have been conducted that investigate different genres of music and their effects on heart rate as well as other heart application such as blood pressure.

Personal Engagement Statement:

The reason for doing this experiment is to see to what extent are we affected by music on a physical level. The reason I decided to focus on music's physical effect is because of how it is mostly known to have a more mental and emotional effect on our mood. I want to investigate how an everyday thing like music can cause physical change in our bodies by the different type of genres that come with it. This topic idea was also influenced by the fact I have been involved in musical groups, orchestra and mariachi, since I was 12 years old. The contrast between these two distinct musical groups, one soothing and the other festive, lead me to inquire upon music's effect in general. I want to not only know the difference between classical and mariachi music, but also take into account all the other music with varied tempos.

Exploration:

The topic I will be conducting an experiment on will be the study of music's effect on our heart rate. My research question my whole experiment will be based on is: What effect does the different genres of music have on an adolescent's rested heart rate? The dependent variable of this experiment is going to be the heart rate because it will change or not due to the music, and I am going to measure the heart rate by beats per minute. My experiment's independent variable will be the genre of music since it will not depend on the other variable for change. The controlled variables of this experiment will be the music's volume, headphones used, starting heart rate, the device used to play music, and the age and gender of the test subjects.

Hypothesis:

If the music is loud and has a fast tempo, then I believe your heart rate will increase because the tempo causes people to breathe faster. However, music with a slower and softer tempo, like classical music, causes the opposite effects on your heart rate. The research that helps back my hypothesis up is how Sakamoto found, for the Journal of Sound and Vibration, that there was an increase in systolic and diastolic pressure, which are the first and second reading in blood pressure, during exposure to steady noise and music with high intensity peaks. Since heart rate and blood pressure work interchangeably, like when exercising, it is a strong indicator heart rate will be affect by the music's genre based on the research. According to a study performed in Japan, hearing classical music results in a small variance of Mayer Wave which results in the lowering of the heart rate (Mamoru, 1998). This is because the sympathetic nerve is suppressed by the sound of classical music. In addition, rapid changes in volume and fast paced tempos cause the heart rate to increase (Epperson, 2011). These elements are what techno songs are composed of, and therefore an increased heart rate can be predicted upon listening to them.

Independent Variable: The independent variable is the genre of music the subject is exposed to while their heart rate is being measured. The levels of the independent variable will include five different genres of music. These will include classical music, pop music, jazz music, techno music, and country music. These genres vary in style and tempo or speed.

Dependent Variable: Heart rate which will be measured by beats per minute

Controlled Variable: Volume of music, headphones used, starting heart rate, device used, age, gender, the quietness of room environment, and the position of subject while exposed to music.

Materials: Headphones, iPhone for the music, stopwatch, paper, calculator, and pencil.

Procedure: Data Collection will be a sample size of at least 30 trials ranging from the age of 14-18. For each age year, in total 5, there will be at least six trails for each subject that is of ever age, turning out to be 30 trials in total. My subjects will have a variety of males and females.

  1. Make sure to pick a quite outside or room environment where there is minimal distractions or conversations.
  2. Allow the subject to sit in the chair in an upright position, ensuring that his/her back is against the backing of the chair and his/her feet are firmly planted in the ground.
  3. Place headphones in the subject's two ears, but do not play any music yet. This is to ensure that the act of wearing headphones is not an additional factor.
  4. Conduct the first trial for the experimental control.
    1. Allow the subject to sit in the chair for three minutes without the addition of music to rest their heart rate as much as possible.
    2. Write down resting heart rate of subject by finding their radial pulse. (To find the radial pulse I will put my index and third finger on the subject's wrist nearest their body. I will use the pads of my fingers. Place them just below the wrist creases on the thumb side. Press lightly until I feel the blood pulsing under their skin).
    3. Once three minutes have passed, measure subject's heart by using beats per minute. In order to do this begin the stop watch after the first pulse is felt. Count the number of pulses felt until the stop watch reads 60 seconds
  5. Allow the subject one minute of silence before continuing with the rest of the trials.
  6. Conduct the trials involving the different levels of the independent variable.
    1. Set the volume on the iPhone to medium volume.
    2. After one minute of silence since the first pulse reading has elapsed, begin playing the pop music. (Ensure that the iPhone is set on repeat in case the song is too short. If this step is forgotten, the song may switch and the trial will not be valid for use)
    3. Allow the subject to listen to the song for three minutes on a constant volume.
    4. During the three minute time interval, note any changes in heart rate when finding their radial pulse.
    5. As the subject listens to the music, note changes in facial expression, skin temperature, skin color (paleness or redness), and involuntary movement as qualitative data.
    6. Allow the subject one minute of silence before continuing with the rest of the trials.
    7. Repeats steps 6a- 6g for all genres of music (jazz, classical, techno, and country).
  7. Repeat steps 1-5 until I get a sample size of 30 trials.
  8. Calculate the average for each subject and the respective genres of music in order to make a representation of the data.
  9. Measure the percent change in the pulse comparing the experimental control and all genres of music bpm in order to calculate the effect of the intensity of physical effect on the heart rate.
  10. Ensure collection is significant, relevant data by pooling the data. This will make sure that there is analysis even if this sample size may be too small to evaluate the effect or relationship of the study.

Safety, ethical or environmental issues:

To make sure this experiment is conducted in the safest and ethical manner, I will make sure the songs chosen are censored from any explicit language during the trials. Also, I will make sure the volume of the music is not very loud for the subjects to prevent any hearing injuries to take place. I will also make sure the headphones used while this experiments are always clean for each subject to prevent any possible ear infections.

Data Collection:

Qualitative:

During this experimental procedure, I noticed various qualitative observations. Each genre of music seemed to have a different effect on the subjects. Some effects were subtle, while others were more noticeable. No changes in the skin color or body temperature were noted in this experimental procedure. However, slight movements were present. During the classical music, subjects made subtle swaying movements and briefly closed their eyes like showing they were relaxed into it. During the pop and rap music, the head swaying became more "upbeat" and the subjects smiled or lightly chuckled while their eyes were open. The rock genre and techno genres had similar movements and expression as the pop music.

Quantitative:

Table 1: Displays heart rates (bpm) of ten subjectsduring resting heart rate, classical, pop, country, jazz, and techno hearings for six trials.

Subjects

Trials

Resting

(bpm±1.0)

Classical

(bpm±1.0)

Pop

(bpm±1.0)

Country

(bpm±1.0)

Jazz

(bpm±1.0)

Techno

(bpm±1.0)

Subject 1

(14 years old)

1

61

60

74

63

68

75

2

63

61

72

61

69

73

3

63

60

75

60

69

74

Subject 2

(14 years old)

4

64

57

73

60

67

74

5

62

57

75

59

69

76

6

63

58

74

59

70

75

Subject 3

(15 years old)

1

62

62

70

62

72

73

2

62

61

71

62

73

75

3

63

61

70

60

71

76

Subject 4

(15 years old)

4

63

63

69

58

74

72

5

63

62

67

60

74

71

6

62

63

68

57

73

71

Subject 5

(16 years old)

1

63

61

76

59

72

74

2

65

62

74

59

71

77

3

65

60

76

61

72

76

Subject 6

(16 years old)

4

65

59

75

62

74

75

5

66

61

73

60

73

76

6

64

59

74

63

75

78

Subject 7

(17 years old)

1

62

60

75

57

70

78

2

61

62

73

56

72

75

3

63

64

77

58

69

76

Subject 8

(17 years old)

4

64

64

72

60

75

73

5

64

63

68

63

73

72

6

66

64

71

59

77

72

Subject 9

(18 years old)

1

60

58

76

58

73

73

2

59

61

74

56

70

73

3

59

59

75

59

74

71

Subject 10

(18 years old)

4

63

59

69

62

72

72

5

67

60

72

58

71

70

6

65

57

71

60

71

73

I conducted the mean of the different bpm values for resting and the five genres of music (classical, pop, country, techno, and jazz) for each of the five subjects. This statistic allowed me to observe the average heart rate of each subject under the influence of the different music genres. Through this analysis, I was able to collocate the data and compare the differences in the bpm for each music genre. It gave me the ability to determine if a certain genre caused a larger average bpm for the subject and how it changed based on the intensity of the genre.

I conducted the range of bpm of all six trials for each type of exercise. This statistic allowed me to identify the difference between the maximum value and the minimum value for bpm during each music listening. It gave me the ability to determine the distribution of my data for each different genre of music. Due to its small number, this value showed me that my average bpm for each exercise was overall pretty consistent, and did not fluctuate greatly during the three trials for each age section.

I conducted the standard deviation of heart rate bpm from all six trials for each genre of music conducted. This statistic allowed me to obtain a more detailed and accurate estimate of the dispersion in the data values because one outlier can greatly exaggerate the data in the range, therefore making it inaccurate. The standard deviation showed me the relation of the bpm for all three trials to its mean value. Since it was a small value, it showed me that the bpm levels stayed mainly constant throughout the trials with a small dispersion of data. I conducted a percent change in order to determine the change in my bpm values between each genre of music and resting. By doing so, I analyzed by how much of a difference (bpm) value there was for each genre of music compared to resting. This was done to see if there was a significant increase or decrease in the bpm values between the genres of music and resting.

Table 2: Displays average heart rate of ten subjects (bpm) and average data dispersion for eachgenre of music   

Subject

Genre of Music

Average (bpm)

Range (bpm)

Standard Deviation

Subject 1

(14 years old)

Resting

62.3

2.0

1.2

Classical

60.3

1.0

0.6

Pop

73.6

3.0

1.2

Country

61.3

3.0

1.2

Jazz

68.6

1.0

0.6

Techno

74

2.0

1

Subject 2

(14 years old)

Resting

63

2.0

1

Classical

57.3

1.0

0.6

Pop

74

2.0

1

Country

59.3

1.0

0.6

Jazz

68.6

3.0

1.5

Techno

75

2.0

1

Subject 3

(15 years old)

Resting

62.3

1.0

0.6

Classical

61.3

1.0

0.6

Pop

70.3

1.0

0.6

Country

61.3

2.0

1.2

Jazz

72

2.0

1

Techno

74

3.0

1.5

Subject 4

(15 years old)

Resting

62.6

1.0

0.6

Classical

62.6

1.0

0.6

Pop

68

2.0

1

Country

58.3

3.0

1.5

Jazz

73.6

1.0

0.6

Techno

71.3

3.0

0.6

Subject 5

(16 years old)

Resting

64.3

2.0

1.2

Classical

61

2.0

1

Pop

75.3

2.0

1.2

Country

59.6

2.0

1.2

Jazz

71.6

1.0

0.6

Techno

75.6

3.0

1.5

Subject 6

(16 years old)

Resting

65

2.0

1

Classical

59.6

2.0

1.2

Pop

75.3

2.0

1

Country

61.6

3.0

1.5

Jazz

74

2.0

1

Techno

76.3

3.0

1.5

Subject 7

(17 years old)

Resting

62

2.0

1

Classical

62

4.0

2

Pop

75

4.9

2

Country

57

2.0

1

Jazz

70.3

3.0

1.5

Techno

76.3

3.0

1.5

Subject 8

(17 years old)

Resting

64.6

2.0

1.2

Classical

63.6

1.0

0.6

Pop

70.3

4.0

2.1

Country

60.6

4.0

2.1

Jazz

75

4.0

2

Techno

72.3

1.0

0.6

Subject 9

(18 years old)

Resting

59.3

1.0

0.6

Classical

59.3

3.0

1.5

Pop

75

2.0

1

Country

57.6

3.0

1.5

Jazz

72.3

4.0

2.1

Techno

72.3

2.0

1.2

Subject 10

(18 years old)

Resting

65

4.0

2

Classical

58.6

3.0

1.5

Pop

70.6

3.0

1.5

Country

60

4.0

2

Jazz

71.3

1.0

0.6

Techno

71.6

3.0

1.5

Table 3: Displays total average bpm of all ten subjectscombined, average data dispersion for each genre, and comparison of average bpm of genres and resting using percent difference

Subject

Music Genre

Total Average (bpm)

Total Range (bpm)

Standard Deviation

Percentage Difference from Resting

Combined (10)

Resting

63

8.0

1.8

0.0

Classical

60.6

7.0

2.0

-3.8

Pop

72.7

10.0

2.7

15.4

Country

59.7

7.0

1.6

-5.2

Jazz

71.7

10.0

2.1

13.8

Techno

73.9

8.0

1.9

17.3

Conclusion:

The results supported my initial hypothesis; however, they were not statistically significant. Initially I hypothesized that classical music would result in a lowering of the heart rate while techno music would have the most influence on raising the heart rate. According to my results, the percent difference between resting and classical music is -3.8% and the percent difference between resting and techno music is 17.3%, supporting my hypothesis. Country music also lowered the average heart rate by a lower -5.2%, while pop and jazz music heighted the heart rate by 15.4% and 13.8% respectively. The more upbeat songs such as the pop, jazz, and techno appeared to have increased the heart rates of the subjects as predicted, and the slower more relaxed songs such as the classical and country music lowered the heart rates.

This experiment can be expanded to possibly aid in the development of new therapeutic methods based for cardiac conditions based on music. It can also be used to help aid in the stressful lives of teenagers, often resulting in higher-than-normal heart rates (Smolen et al, 2002). The results of my study, although not statistically significant support the findings of other scientists researching the field. Increases in systolic and diastolic pressures during exposure to steady noise and music with high intensity peaks are present (Epperson, 2011). This would account for genres of music such as techno that have a consistent beat and high peaks of volume. The opposite can be observed for classical music that constantly changes in rhythm and lacks high peaks of volume.

Evaluation:

The act of measuring may have sparked uncertainty during the experiment. In order to calculate the beats per minute of each subject after exercise, I counted his/her pulse for a total of one minute. It is possible that I may have miscounted certain times or missed certain heart beats, which would have made the bpm values slightly inaccurate.

A biological error could have also played a role in this experiment. After listening to the songs for certain amounts of time, the subject's heart rate could have been restored back to normal to due disinterest in the music. This would have varied our bpm data because different subjects take different amounts of time for their bodies to return to normal maintenance in which they lower/higher their heart rate to adjust and regain homeostasis.

Some limitations of this experiment include its ability to be generalized for the "real world" and the majority of the population. This is because there are many different types of music genres that could potentially affect heart rate. The experiment was limited to only five genres of music that are deemed popular. In addition, only one song was chosen to represent each music genre, for a total of five songs. Each music genre can be further divided into different categories, allowing there to be a range of music within each genre. For example, in the classical genre there are waltzes and symphonies, and both produce completely different sounds. Some classical pieces may be upbeat and have a fast tempo while others may be slower. This variation and song selection process is flawed because only one song is not sufficient to represent an entire genre, so it limits the whole application to the real world.

Another limitation may deal with the chosen subjects. Although they were varied, each individual could have potentially had an impact on the collected data. The subjects were not surveyed. Some of them may have a tendency to listen to specific genres of music on a daily basis thus making them liable to not show a difference in heart rate. For example, a person who listens to pop music every day may show no difference in the heart rate compared to rest because his/her body is accustomed to the genre. Also, if a subject is not used to hearing a specific genre of music or never has heard it, it might catch them by surprise, thus increasing their heart rate.

There are few improvements that could be made in this investigation which would further modify the procedure and generate more accurate results. A heart rate monitor can be used, which would be connected to the subject while he/she is listening to each genre of music in order to measure the precise heart beats per minute the actual genre has on the runner at that time. This would also eliminate human error and would have saved more time.

A stethoscope could be used to measure the runner's heartbeat. This will allow hearing of clear concise heart beats which can be accurately measured as compared to slight pulses felt on one's finger through the neck. By measuring with a stethoscope, the heart beats per minute can be accurately heard and measured without missing any heart beats. However, trying to obtain stethoscope would be more challenging than the heart monitor.

The song selection process could be improved by selecting more than one song per genre. A total of two or three songs per genre would make the results more accurate. In addition, a different approach could be taken. Instead of using song genres as the independent variable, the song tempo could be used and varied. This would eliminate the issue of genres being too broad. Furthermore, also the song selection could limit the subject from fully enjoying the music, therefore interfere with how they react to it.

The use of varying the subjects' ages into my data gave me an indication that if I did a similar experiment, it would turn out similar to this one due to the unexpected varying data collected from each age group. However, I varying the age groups was a good idea because you can see specifically younger adolescents listen to compared to older ones.

By measuring only a small sample, one only collects data that pertains to people of that paradigm, ignoring others of different situations and possible outcomes. It becomes an inaccurate conclusion that is not proved to be valid for all humans. Also, I had only one subject represent one age group, so it is not accurate to say that they represent all their age group.

Bibliography  

Broadened Population-Level Frequency Tuning in Human Auditory Cortex of Portable Music Player Users. (2011, March). National Institute for Physiological Sciences.

Copeland, & Franks. (1991, March). Effects of types and intensities of background music on treadmill endurance. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 100-103.

Epperson. (2011). Music Effects the Cardiovascular System. American Heart Association.

Leschka, S., Wildermuth, S., Boehm, T., & Desbiolles, L. (2006, November). Noninvasive Coronary Angiography with 64-Section CT: Effect of Average Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability on Image Quality. Radiology , 241, 378-385.

Mamoru, U., & Kaoru, H. (1998). Influence of music on heart rate variability and comfort: A consideration through comparison of music and noise. Journal of human ergology , 27, 30-38 .

Smolen, D., Topp, R., & Singer, L. (2002, August). The effect of self-selected music during colonoscopy on anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure. Applied Nursing Research, 15(3), 126-136.


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