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Biol Psychol. 2005 Sep;70(1):61-6.

Heart rate variability with repetitive exposure to music.

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Department of Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, Kagamiyama 1-7-1, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima 739-8521, Japan.


Previous studies of physiological responses to music showed inconsistent results, which might be attributable to methodological differences. Heart rate variability has been used to assess activation of the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The present study aimed to examine heart rate variability with repetitive exposure to sedative or excitative music. The participants were 13 undergraduate or graduate students who were each exposed to three conditions sedative music (SM), excitative music (EM), and no music (NM) on different days. Each participant underwent four sessions of one condition in a day. Sedative music and no music each induced both high relaxation and low tension subjectively. However, excitative music decreased perceived tension and increased perceived relaxation as the number of sessions increased. The low-frequency (LF) component of heart rate variability (HRV) and the LF/HF (high-frequency) ratio increased during SM and EM sessions but decreased during NM sessions. The HF component of HRV during SM was higher than that during EM but the same as that during NM. These findings suggest that excitative music decreased the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

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