Scientific Blogging – Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that the emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function.
Music, selected by study participants because it made them feel good and brought them a sense of joy, caused tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate (or expand) in order to increase blood flow. This healthy response matches what the same researchers found in a 2005 study of laughter. On the other hand, when study volunteers listened to music they perceived as stressful, their blood vessels narrowed, producing a potentially unhealthy response that reduces blood flow. . .
Compared to baseline, the average upper arm blood vessel diameter increased 26 percent after the joyful music phase, while listening to music that caused anxiety narrowed blood vessels by six percent. . .
During the laughter phase of the study, a 19 percent increase in dilation showed a significant trend. The relaxation phase increased dilation by 11 percent on average; a number that the investigators determined was not statistically significant.
Most of the participants in the study selected country music as their favorite to evoke joy, according to Dr. Miller, while they said “heavy metal” music made them feel anxious. “You can’t read into this too much, although you could argue that country music is light, spirited, a lot of love songs.” says Dr. Miller, who enjoys rock, classical, jazz and country music. He says he could have selected 10 other individuals and the favorite could have been a different type of music.