"In our studies, volunteers selected music that made them feel good or feel bad," Miller said. "Our belief is that cardiovascular reactions to music are amplified by emotional responses. Our results were not inconsistent with these findings."
The Italian study results were called "fascinating" by Barry A. Franklin, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
"They were able to see modest changes in all variables," Franklin said. "As a clinician, one who works with people with cardiovascular disease, I ask, can we extrapolate or generalize to clinical populations? I see some potentially very exciting research and clinical applications to people with disabilities, where modest changes could have very significant salutatory effects. If they listen to music through headphones while they exercise, can we get better changes on such measures as oxygen flow and blood pressure?"
The people who Franklin works with now exercise on treadmills or stationary bicycles, without music. "I might implement a small pilot program on these subjects, not at rest but while they exercise," he said. "Are their responses altered by simultaneous music? These are debilitated coronary patients in whom small changes might be important."
"One logical next step would be to encourage interdisciplinary research with relevant clinical populations receiving specific music therapy interventions," said Al Bumanis, a spokesman for the America Music Therapy Association. The effects of music therapy are being tested in people in cardiovascular rehabilitation, brain-injured individuals and premature babies, among others, he said.
Information on music therapy research is available from the American Music Therapy Association.
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