UdeM study seeks to relax athletes with gentle tunes
Published Sunday, September 4, 2016 6:02PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 4, 2016 7:00PM EDT
While many athletes use music to get pumped up, new research from the Universite de Montreal shows it might also play a valuable role in cooling down.
The school’s Brams laboratory examines how music and sound affects the brain and an ongoing study has researchers putting jocks through the paces.
“Athletes have a high level of stress because they compete a lot,” said clinical neuropsychology doctoral candidate Diane Tat. “Music can be very original and a nice way of relaxing and reducing daily stress for them.”
The study involves putting the athletes through difficult mental challenges while monitoring their heart rates. Afterward, they put on headphones and listen to soft music to see if it affects their stress levels.
While gentle music has long been shown to have a calming effect, the survey is aimed at discovering why that is.
One hypothesis: the same part of the brain that helps us form an emotional connection to music is also involved in how we feel stress.
“The amygdala is a small structure in our brain that’s activated by both music and stress,” said Nathalie Gosselin, a clinical neuropsychologist at UdeM. “We think by the effect of the music on the brain, we can reduce the effect of stress.”
The researchers hope that eventually, they can develop an athletic therapy for athletes revolving around music.
“The first step is to show it really is the effect of music and not just a placebo effect,” said Gosselin. “When this is proven, we can go through to find better interventions that could apply to a lot of people.”
The study is still in its early stages and more participants are needed. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 who’s a top athlete with no musical experience is invited to sign up.