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July 8, 2013

Choir singers 'synchronise their heartbeats'

BBC

Choir singers not only harmonise their voices, they also synchronise their heartbeats, a study suggests. Researchers in Sweden monitored the heart rates of singers as they performed a variety of choral works.

They found that as the members sang in unison, their pulses began to speed up and slow down at the same rate.

Writing in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the scientists believe the synchronicity occurs because the singers coordinate their breathing. Dr Bjorn Vickhoff, from the Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University in Sweden, said: "The pulse goes down when you exhale and when you inhale it goes up.

"So when you are singing, you are singing on the air when you are exhaling so the heart rate would go down. And between the phrases you have to inhale and the pulse will go up. If this is so then heart rate would follow the structure of the song or the phrases, and this is what we measured and this is what we confirmed."

"When you exhale you activate the vagus nerve... that goes form the brain stem to the heart” They found that the more structured the work, the more the singers' heart rates increased or decreased together. Slow chants, for example, produced the most synchronicity.

The researchers also found that choral singing had the overall effect of slowing the heart rate. This, they said, was another effect of the controlled breathing. Dr Vickhoff explained: "When you exhale you activate the vagus nerve, we think, that goes from the brain stem to the heart. And when that is activated the heart beats slower."

Posted by acapnews at July 8, 2013 12:00 AM