Health & Fitness

Baroque Music, HRV, and Oral Contraceptives

Kristen Sparrow • September 28, 2015


statue of Kuan Lin
Kuan Lin
Goddess of Compassion
“She who hears the cries of the world”

Quite a title to this post, I know!  So what do all of those have to do with each other?  I usually play Baroque music in my office because of reading I did years ago about “super learning” and that Baroque music tended to improve learning.  It turns out that it improves HRV also.  So maybe I need to be sure to pump the music into the treatment rooms instead of just reception!

Altern Ther Health Med. 2015 Sep;21(5):37-43.

Oral Contraceptives Attenuate Cardiac Autonomic Responses to Musical Auditory Stimulation: Pilot Study.


Context • The literature presents contradictory results regarding the effects of contraceptives on cardiac autonomic regulation. Objective • The research team aimed to evaluate the effects of musical auditory stimulation on cardiac autonomic regulation in women who use oral contraceptives. Design • The research team designed a transversal observational pilot study. Setting • The setting was the Centro de Estudos do Sistema Nervoso Autônomo (CESNA) in the Departamento de Fonoaudiologia at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Marília, SP, Brazil. Participants • Participants were 22 healthy nonathletic and nonsedentary females, all nonsmokers and aged between 18 and 27 y. Interventions • Participants were divided into 2 groups: (1) 12 women who were not taking oral contraceptives, the control group; and (2) 10 women who were taking oral contraceptives, the oral contraceptive group. In the first stage, a rest control, the women sat with their earphones turned off for 20 min. After that period, the participants were exposed to 20 min of classical baroque music (ie, “Canon in D Major,” Johann Pachelbel), at 63-84 dB. Outcome Measures • Measurements of the equivalent sound levels were conducted in a soundproof room, and the intervals between consecutive heartbeats (R-R intervals) were recorded, with a sampling rate of 1000 Hz. For calculation of the linear indices, the research team used software to perform an analysis of heart rate variability (HRV). Linear indices of HRV were analyzed in the time domain: (1) the standard deviation of normal-to-normal R-R intervals (SDNN), (2) the root-mean square of differences between adjacent normal R-R intervals in a time interval (RMSSD), and (3) the percentage of adjacent R-R intervals with a difference of duration greater than 50 ms (pNN50). The study also analyzed the frequency domain-low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and LF/HF ratio. Results • For the control group, the musical auditory stimulation reduced (1) the SDNN from 52.2 ± 10 ms to 48.4 ± 16 ms (P = .0034); (2) the RMSSD from 45.8 ± 22 ms to 41.2 ± 19 ms (P = .0128); (3) the pNN50 from 25.5 ± 19 to 22.0 ± 18 (P = .0211); and (4) the LF (ms2) from 954.8 ± 457 ms2 to 686.2 ± 491 ms2 (P = .0024). In the oral contraceptive group, no significant changes occurred for the HRV indices during exposure to music. Conclusions • Musical auditory stimulation had a greater influence on cardiac autonomic regulation in women who did not use oral contraceptives.