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Neuroendocrinology. 2013;98(2):144-50. doi: 10.1159/000354202. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Increased anxiety induced by listening to unpleasant music during stress exposure is associated with reduced blood pressure and ACTH responses in healthy men.

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Laboratory of Pharmacological Neuroendocrinology, Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.


The relationship between anxiety and the neuroendocrine response to stress stimuli is still not fully understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the contribution of an acute increase in state anxiety to neuroendocrine activation under stress conditions. To do so, it was necessary to find a stress condition of the same character and intensity with and without a rise in state anxiety. We decided to examine the effects of listening to music on anxiety and to apply a new methodological approach. A group of 14 healthy volunteers participated in a counterbalanced crossover design study. The stress procedure consisted of mental (Stroop test, mental arithmetic) and physical (handgrip exercise) tasks combined with listening to music played forward (pleasant) or backwards (unpleasant). The results confirmed our hypothesis, namely the condition with listening to unpleasant music was anxiogenic, while the other was not. In case of increased state anxiety, the rise in ACTH concentrations in response to mental challenge and the increase in systolic blood pressure induced by handgrip exercise was reduced compared to the situation with unchanged anxiety. Concentrations of testosterone, oxytocin, vasopressin and aldosterone were slightly increased in response to the stress paradigm accompanied with increased anxiety. In conclusion, the present data demonstrate that an acute increase in state anxiety contributes to neuroendocrine activation under stress conditions. Moreover, the results show that listening to music may both positively and negatively influence the perception of stress and the level of anxiety, which might have functional consequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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