Music has been a large part of many tweens and teens’ lives for decades now, and the 21st century is no exclusion. Because of the influence music has had on our society, it seemed relevant to take a more in-depth look at how music may affect someone’s mental and physical health. This lead to the creation of an idea to study, discovering if different genres of music have an effect on heart rate and ones emotional response afterward. This study may help teens realize if certain types of music are making them happier, or if their favorite song is actually dragging their health down. First off, music is made up of many notes, rhythms, and sounds combined in a way that creates a beautiful tune usually consisting of lyrics, a melody, a harmony, and many different types of background instruments, or maybe even no instruments at all.
Music is something that is able to not only express the singer’s emotion but is also able to create emotions in others that can affect lives. Because of this, many times musical tunes and lyrics can be interpreted differently depending on how they are perceived by different types of people, which can affect one’s individual emotions that arise (Schwartz, 2000). Another key element is Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which is the variation, or difference, of time in between heartbeats. Heart Rate Variation can be measured in a few different ways, one of the easiest and most non-invasive ways being through a finger heart rate monitor. Every person has a different HRV for the basic reason that every body is structured in a unique way. HRV can be influenced by multiple different things, a few of the main factors being emotions, anxiety, and body temperature. Heart Rate Variability can be traced back to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which regulates some of our most important systems including heart rate and digestion. ANS is split into two main divisions; the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic divisions.
While these two divisions are both a part of ANS, they both have very different purposes. The Sympathetic nervous system is responsible for reacting to threats or injuries to the body, for making muscles to contract, and is what causes one’s heart rate to increase while the Parasympathetic division is what controls certain functions when the body is at rest. One other main difference between the two divisions is that a person has little to no control over the Parasympathetic while there are certain things that a person can control Sympathetic reactions such as exercise. Both of these attributes to HRV and connect to the brain since they are a smaller part of the nervous system of the body. Based on the significance of HRV and ANS, many studies have occurred to test variables, stress being one of the subjects. One study showed that stress in teens is a pressing issue (Latha, Sairaman, Srikanth, Dity, 2014) so large that even the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) levels are being pushed off their normal standards, making for mental health issues in teens and young adults. This problem made finding stress relief methods a vital and foremost study.
Through much research about the human body, a group of scientists decided that studying Heart Rate Variability (HRV) a simpler alternative than other options to try out different ideas for reducing stress levels, and along the way found that HRV also would allow scientist to more accurately measure stress effects without having to analyze images of the brain. Through these tests, scientists have found that music is a very cheap and easily accessible remedy for stress and that it could greatly help the return the levels of ANS function to normal after high-stress events as well as lower anxiety. Other types of studies have shown this result as well but in a little different way. Some other experiments that are more about the mental health aspect of musical stimulation than about the heart rate variation side, one conclusion that has been found is that music can most times definitely have a positive effect on one’s emotional health in addition to being able to reduce stress.
One study attested to the fact that most music does indeed have a positive effect on a person’s spiritual mindset and that it can also help relax the body and foster happier feelings in some kinds of people through much evidence from a mini-study of their own and from using information from previous studies that were similar (Pretorius, 2017). In contrast, some other studies have concluded that while some types of music can enrich and develop one’s mind, that other songs/genres of music can do very little to help the brain relax, making the music choice actually have little effect to even a bit of a negative effect on a persons emotional and mental health instead of a more positive reaction (Popescu, 2011). These pieces that focus on the more mental side of music is something else that helps prove and remind people that the mind is connected to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) since it is a part of the overall nervous system. Based off of these studies, a hypothesis and new experiment were formed by combining different aspects of the HRV, ANS, and the other study results, though it would still require further research and testing. The hypothesis that was formed is as follows; If the participant listens to Classical music or music with a softer undertone, then their heart rate will be significantly lower and they will have a more positive emotional response than when the participant listened to Rock music or Pop music. Through experimentation, this idea could end up helping tweens and young adults not only visually see and understand their difference in heart rate from music genre to genre but also what effect, if any, it has on their emotional outlook afterward.
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