Music therapy, emotions and the heart: A pilot study

Alfredo Raglio, Osmano Oasi, Marta Gianotti, Daniele Bellandi, Veronica Manzoni, Karine Goulene, Chiara Imbriani, Marco Stramba Badiale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: the autonomic nervous system plays an important role in the control of cardiac function. It has been suggested that sound and music may have effects on the autonomic control of the heart inducing emotions, concomitantly with the activation of specific brain areas, i.e. the limbic area, and they may exert potential beneficial effects. Objective: this study is a prerequisite and defines a methodology to assess the relation between changes in cardiac physiological parameters such as heart rate, QT interval and their variability and the psychological responses to music therapy sessions. Methods: we assessed the cardiac physiological parameters and psychological responses to a music therapy session. ECG Holter recordings were performed before, during and after a music therapy session in 8 healthy individuals. The different behaviors of the music therapist and of the subjects have been analyzed with a specific music therapy assessment (Music Therapy Checklist). Results: after the session mean heart rate decreased (p=0.05), high frequency of heart rate variability tended to be higher and QTc variability tended to be lower. During music therapy session "affect attunements" have been found in all subjects but one. A significant emotional activation was associated to a higher dynamicity and variations of soundmusic interactions. Conclusion: our results may represent the rational basis for larger studies in different clinical conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-443
Number of pages6
JournalGiornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cardiac function
  • Emotions
  • Music therapy
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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