Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: She can relax you

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.”
British dramatist William Congreve in 1697

A review of 26 studies involving more than 2,000 people found that music reliably reduces anxiousness among people preparing to undergo surgical operations. And the emotional benefits of music are not confined to the OR. Music therapists are now helping people manage anxiety disorders and other physical or psychological conditions from pain disorders to PTSD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of Americans experienced anxiety and depression symptoms during the month of June last year. That’s not surprising, unless you think the percentage was actually higher.

“A very large number of people use music almost as a drug,” says Daniel Levitin, PhD, a neuroscientist and author of ‘This Is Your Brain on Music.’

‘There’s a certain kind of music they’ll put on to get their day started, a certain kind while driving or walking to work, something else for exercise, something else to wind down.”

The Vera Clinic based in Istanbul provides affordable medical treatments for patients from all over the world by internationally certified surgeons for hair transplants and plastic surgeries.

The clinic conducted a survey asking 1,540 adult (ages 18-65) volunteers to undergo a series of mental stress tests, during which they listened to various Spotify playlists composed of several popular genres of music. They were fitted with heart rate and blood pressure monitors and asked to record their stats throughout the experiment. Which style of music had the most pacifying effect on participants?

Was it classical?

60’s oldies?

70s rock?

Jazz?

Techno music aggravated study volunteers most. Rounding out the bottom set above techno: ’70s rock, dubstep, the “oldies,” jazz and blues.

As for the most relaxing form of music, the winner had 96% of the group reporting a decrease in blood pressure while listening to the tunes and 36% also felt their heart rate drop.

The most soothing style? Cheesy hits from…the 80’s.

“The results may seem surprising on first inspection, but medically they make a lot of sense. 1980s pop hits could have positive nostalgia attached to them for many people, and their upbeat, party-like sounds can induce the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain, both increasing feelings of happiness and calm,” said Vera Clinic’s Dr. Ömer Avlanmış.

According to the study one of the most anxiety-reducing ’80s pop songs was this recording, about a prostitute:

Here’s the 80’s playlist given to participants.

The full results of the study are below:

Spotify playlist/GenreAverage % change in respondents’ heart rate% of respondents who recorded increase in blood pressure % of respondents who recorded decrease in blood pressure
80’s Pop36% decrease496
Heavy Metal Classics18% decrease1189
Noughties Pop Hits11% decrease2278
Modern Classical15% decrease2575
Classical 13% decrease2773
90’s RNB12% decrease3664
Jazz and Blues2% increase6634
60’s Golden Oldies4% increase7228
Dubstep Classics13% increase7426
70’s rock Anthems7% increase7723
Techno classics9% increase7822

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