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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24893. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024893. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

Cardiac and respiratory patterns synchronize between persons during choir singing.

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Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.


Dyadic and collective activities requiring temporally coordinated action are likely to be associated with cardiac and respiratory patterns that synchronize within and between people. However, the extent and functional significance of cardiac and respiratory between-person couplings have not been investigated thus far. Here, we report interpersonal oscillatory couplings among eleven singers and one conductor engaged in choir singing. We find that: (a) phase synchronization both in respiration and heart rate variability increase significantly during singing relative to a rest condition; (b) phase synchronization is higher when singing in unison than when singing pieces with multiple voice parts; (c) directed coupling measures are consistent with the presence of causal effects of the conductor on the singers at high modulation frequencies; (d) the different voices of the choir are reflected in network analyses of cardiac and respiratory activity based on graph theory. Our results suggest that oscillatory coupling of cardiac and respiratory patterns provide a physiological basis for interpersonal action coordination.

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