27 October, 2010

Can music be good (or bad) for you?

Just wrote this article for the ITHP website. I will in due course repost the whole article here, but for now I'll just link to it.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous


  1. In your article, you note that listening to highly stimulating music increases the secretion of cortisol and noradrenaline. I'm assuming that the increased secretion of these hormones in this context means that the entire Sympathetic Nervous System becomes more aroused. So this got me wondering... Is there any research on the effects of music or other sounds on the Autonomic Nervous System?

    Here's why I ask:

    While the Sympathetic Nervous System is responsible for the "fight or flight" response, the Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for the "rest and digest" functions. People with a chronically underaroused Autonomic Nervous System are prone to diseases in which the body's own immune system attacks itself (autoimmune disorders). This is because the Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for keeping the functions of the immune system in check. When the Autonomic Nervous System is underaroused, the Sympathetic Nervous System's driving of the immune system can get out of control.

    So is it possible that certain sound environments might provide a physiological assist to people whose lives are deeply impacted by autoimmune diseases?

  2. Fascinating question Saraiah, and not one I have any answers to. I am not aware of any research on the effects of sound on the autonomic nervous system, but this is an area that I suspect may yield great rewards. Anyone else know of anything here?


I welcome your feedback!