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Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino: The Effects of Music and Partner


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The present study examines the emotional and hormonal responses to tango dancing and the specific influences of the presence of music and partner on these responses. Twenty-two tango dancers were assessed within four conditions, in which the presence of music and a dance partner while dancing were varied in a 2 × 2 design. Before each condition and 5 minutes thereafter, participants provided salivary samples for analysis of cortisol and testosterone concentrations and completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. The data suggest that motion with a partner to music has more positive effects on emotional state than motion without music or without a partner. Moreover, decreases of cortisol concentrations were found with the presence of music, whereas increases of testosterone levels were associated with the presence of a partner. The authors' work gives evidence of short-term positive psychobiological reactions after tango dancing and contributes to understanding the differential influence of music and partner.
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Music and Medicine
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DOI: 10.1177/1943862109335064
2009 1: 14Music and Medicine
Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, Stephan Bongard and Gunter Kreutz
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino: The Effects of Music and Partner
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Emotional and Neurohumoral
Responses to Dancing Tango Argentino:
The Effects of Music and Partner
Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, MSc,
Stephan Bongard, PhD,
Gunter Kreutz, PhD
The present study examines the emotional and hormonal
responses to tango dancing and the specific influe nces of
the presence of music and partner on these responses.
Twenty-two tango dancers were assessed within four
conditions, in which the presence of music and a dance
partner while dancing were varied in a 2 2design.
Before each condition and 5 minutes thereafter, partici-
pants provided salivary samples for analysis of cortisol
and testosterone concentrations and completed the Pos-
itive and Negative Affect Schedule. The data suggest that
motion with a partner to music has more positive effects
on emotional state than motion without music or without
a partner. Moreover, decreases of cortisol concentrations
were found with the presence of music, whereas
increases of testosterone levels were associated with the
presence of a partner. The authors’ work gives evidence
of short-term positive psychobiological reactions after
tango dancing and contributes to understanding the
differential influence of music and partner.
Keywords: dance; music; emotional state; cortisol;
usical behaviors and their influence on
subjective and biological variables have
been long-standing topics of empirical
research (Bartlett, 1996). Specifically, psychobiolo-
gical effects have been investigated in response to
music listening (e.g., Gerra et al., 1998) and singing
(e.g., Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, &
Grebe, 2004). In the present study, we are interested
in the influences of music and partner on subjective
and neurohumoral parameters in partnered dance.
Dancing is a form of musical behavior that
involves the coordination of intentional rhythmical
movements to music stimulation. In recent times,
there has been growing interest in the investigation
of dancing as a potential behavior that actively pro-
motes improvement of people’s health. For example,
positive psychological changes with respect to stress
and anxiety in response to dancing have been shown
for healthy individuals (e.g., Leste
& Rust, 1990). In
clinical contexts, benefits of dancing have been
investigated as a complement in the treatment of
mental disorders (e.g., Habousch, Floyd, Caron,
LaSota, & Alvarez, 2006) and physical complaints
(e.g., Hackney, Kantorovich, & Earhart, 2007).
Thus, there appears to be some initial evidence
indicating positive effects of dance activities on emo-
tional state and well-being. However, the specific
psychophysiological effects elicited by dancing as
well as the influences of key variables mediating
these effects are presently unknown. For example,
although dance can, in principle, be performed with-
out sound, music appears to be integral to the dance
experience. Moreover, many, if not most, forms of
dance involve the physical contact and coordination
of movement patterns between different individuals.
Therefore, it seems likely that the presence of music
and partner is essential to the psychophysiological
effects of dancing. To address these factors, the pres-
ent study examines changes in emotional state, cor-
tisol, and testosterone in response to dance under
the influence of presence versus absence of music
and partner.
Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg
Address correspondence to: Cynthia Quiroga Murcia,
Department of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt am
Main, P.O. Box 11 19 32, D-60054 Frankfurt am Main,
Germany; e-mail:
Date received: January 9, 2009; accepted: March 3, 2009.
Music and Medicine
Volume 1 Number 1
July 2009 14-21
# 2009 The Author(s)
Reprints and permission:
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Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal
cortex and is involved in responses to physical and
emotional stress (Kirschbaum & Hellhammer,
1994). Several studies have demonstrated that
stressful events elicit increases in cortisol levels
(e.g., Van Eck, Berkhof, Nicolson, & Sulon, 1996),
which have been implicated in several illness pro-
cesses (e.g., Charmandari, Tsigos, & Chrousos,
2005). Likewise, studies indicate an association
between positive psychological functioning and low-
ered cortisol release as a positive indicator of health
(e.g., Lindfors & Lundberg, 2002).
There is a growing body of literature, which evi-
dences that music can affect cortisol concentrations.
However, it seems that decreases in cortisol levels
following listening to music may be moderated by
musical style (Mo
ckel et al., 1994). Studies have
reported decreases in this hormone after subjects
listened to classical or meditative music (e.g., Kreutz
et al., 2004), whereas in other studies, increased cor-
tisol levels have been found after listening to fast
music (e.g., Gerra et al., 1998). In medical settings,
the use of music stimulation has also proven to be
effective in improving mood and reducing cortisol
concentrations in patients undergoing a variety of
clinical interventions, ranging from surgery (e.g.,
Nilsson, Unosson, & Rawal, 2005) to oncology
(e.g., Burns, Harbuz, Hucklebridge, & Bunt, 2001).
Singing, as a form of more active musical beha-
vior, has also been shown to affect cortisol changes.
However, specific variables, such as the level of
involvement (professional vs. amateur) and the
performance situation (rehearsal vs. public concert),
appear to influence these changes (e.g., Beck,
Cesario, Yousefi, & Enamoto, 1999; Grape, Sandg-
ren, Hansson, Ericson, & Theorell, 2003).
Studies evaluating neuroendocrine responses
after dancing are rare. Rohleder, Beulen, Chen,
Wolf, and Kirschbaum (2007) examined cortisol
changes after competitive ballroom dancing. The
authors found that competitive dancing led to eleva-
tions of cortisol that were elicited by the social-
evaluative performance stressor. In another study,
cortisol increases were found after 90 min of an
African dance class (West, Otte, Geher, Johnson,
& Mohr, 2004). To date, no studies have been found
that have addressed the effects of social partnered
dancing on cortisol responses.
Testosterone is another hormone that seems to
influence importa nt aspects of life. The largest amounts
of testosterone are released by the Leydig cells of the
testes in men. It is also produced in far smaller quan-
tities in the adrenal cortex and ovaries of females.
Primarily functioning as a male sex hormone, testoster-
one has been implicated in the development of mascu-
line physical characteristics, as well as a spectrum of
social behaviors including social dominance (e.g.,
Mazur & Booth, 1998) and bonding (Roney, Mahler,
& Maestripieri, 2003). For example, with respect to
associations between testosterone changes and social
bonding, significant increases of testosterone have been
found in males after short social interactions with
women (Roney et al., 2003; Van der Meij, Buunk, Van
de Sance, & Salvador, 2008).
Empirical work addressing the effects of music
on testosterone appears to be more limited. Fukui
(2001) examined the testosterone concentrations in
male and female students before and after listening
to music. The author observed that testosterone con-
centrations significantly decreased in males after lis-
tening, while concentrations significantly increased
in females. At present, there appear to be no studies
that have assessed the effects of partnered dance on
testosterone in healthy adults.
The purpose of the present study was to analyze
the effects of tango dancing on emotional state, cor-
tisol, and testosterone. Specifically, the differential
contributions of presence versus absence of music
and partner to these parameters were investigated.
Tango argentino is a form of partnered dance that,
nowadays, is practiced in many cities worldwide. The
most important characteristic of tango argentino is
the necessary physical contact between partners and
the high levels of sensitivity required to improvise
complex combinations of figures and steps in a close
embrace. Consistent with previous research, we
expected improved emotional state and lower cortisol
levels when dancing to music. Furthermore, we
expected improved emotional states and increased
testosterone concentrations when dancing with a
partner. However, the combination of music and part-
ner, as it is realized in regular tango dancing, was
assumed to lead to greater positive effects on emo-
tional state, cortisol, and testosterone than when dan-
cing without partner or without music.
Twenty-two individuals, 11 males and 11 females,
with at least 1 year of tango dancing experience,
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango / Quiroga Murcia et al. 15
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participated in this study after giving written informed
consent. Mean age of the participants was 43.09 years
(SD ¼ 8.03 years), with a range of 30 to 56 years.
Most participants enrolled together with the part-
ner of their choice, with the exception of 4 people (2
females and 2 males), who registered alone and met
each other as dance partners at the beginning of this
study. All volunteers received a free tango class fol-
lowing each session as compensation for successful
participation. The study was carried out in accor-
dance with the Declaration of Helsinki principles.
The emotional state was measured using the German
adaptation of the 20-item Positive and Negative
Affect Schedule (PANAS; Krohne, Egloff, Kohl-
mann, & Tausch, 1996; Watson, Clarck, & Tellegan,
1988). Cortisol and testosterone concentrations
were assessed by using salivary samples.
Research Design and Procedure
This study consisted of four experimental conditions,
which were carried out weekly on consecutive Sunday
evenings. The tested experimental conditions were (1)
regular tango dancing (with partner and with music),
(2) ‘‘dancing’’ with partner but without music,(3)
‘‘dancing’ without partner but with music, and (4)
moving without partner and without music.
In both conditions of dancing with music, the
same pieces of music were used, and in both condi-
tions of dancing with a partner, participants danced
with the same partner. To control the effects of the cir-
cadian rhythm influences on salivary hormones, data
of all experimental sessions were always collected at
the same time of day, between 1930 and 2030 hours.
In every session, the participants were assigned to one
of the four conditions. Each condition lasted 20 min-
utes. At the beginning and about 5 minutes after the
dance condition, participants completed the PANAS
inventory and gave the saliva samples. The salivary
analysis was conducted at the lab of Prof. Dr. C.
Kirschbaum at the Technical University of Dresden.
The intra- and interassay coefficients of variance were
below 10%, indicating that the degree of accuracy of
the lab analysis was satisfactory.
Statistical Analysis
For data analysis, SPSS 12.0 for Windows was used.
Because of the anticipation of an unknown situation,
the scores measured at the first session, correspond-
ing to the condition of regular tango dancing (with
partner and with music), might appear greater in
strength. In order to control for this beginning
effect, the first condition was repeated in a fifth ses-
sion at the end of the study. Scores obtained for the
first and the fifth session were aggregated, and the
resulting means then represented the condition of
regular tango dancing (with partner and with music)
in further statistical analyses together with the other
three conditions.
First, the four conditions were compared for
baseline differences using analysis of variance
(ANOVA) for repeated measures. Due to the fact
that baseline values differed for some of the vari-
ables, we conducted subsequent analyses on
response values, namely, calculating the differences
between pretreatment and posttreatment values.
Afterwards, ANOVAs for repeated measures
were conducted based on a 2 (Partner: with partner
vs. without partner) 2 (Music: with music vs. with-
out music) design. Dependent variables were
response values (posttreatment minus pretreatment
values) of emotional (positive affect and negative
affect) and hormonal measures (cortisol and testos-
terone). In case significant interaction effects were
found, subsequent pairwise comparisons between
the four conditions were conducted. In addition,
pre- to posttreatment changes were assessed in each
condition using pairwise t-test comparisons.
Comparisons of baselines of dependent variables in
the four conditions revealed significant differences
in two of the measured variables (see Table 1). For
positive affect, the baseline’s mean value of the con-
dition of moving without partner and without music
was significantly lower than those of both the condi-
tion of regular tango dancing (with partner and with
music), t(21) ¼ 2.96, p < .01, and the condition of
dancing with partner but without music, t(21) ¼
3.23, p < .01. For testosterone, the baseline’s mean
value in the condition dancing with partner but with-
out music was significantly lower than the baselines
of all other conditions: the regular tango dancing
(with partner and with music), t(19) ¼ 2.61, p <
.05; dancing without partner but with music, t(19)
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¼ 2.79, p < .05; and moving without partner and
without music, t(19) ¼ 2.76, p < .05.
Positive and Negative Affect
The ANOVA for positive affect indicated a signifi-
cant interaction between Partner and Music, F(1,
21) ¼ 5.06, p < .05, partial
¼ .19. Post hoc anal-
ysis revealed significant differences in the positive
affect changes between the regular tango dancing
(with partner and with music) condition and the
other three conditions: t(21) ¼ 2.31, p < .05; t(21)
¼ 4.38, p < .001; t(21) ¼ 2.63, p < .05, respectively.
Furthermore, direct comparisons of pretreatment
and posttreatment values by means of paired t tests
indicated a significant increase in positive affect
scores only for the condition of regular tango dan-
cing (with partner and with music) (M ¼ 0.68, SD
¼ 0.37), t(21) ¼ 8.57, p < .001, but not for the other
three conditions, all p > .05 (see Figure 1).
With regard to the ANOVA for the negative
affect scores, neither a significant effect nor an inter-
action between Partner and Music was found. Pair-
wise comparisons of baseline and posttreatment
values showed a significant decrease of negative
affect only after the conditions of regular tango dan-
cing (with partner and with music) (M ¼ –0.15, SD
¼ 0.26), t(21) ¼ 2.73, p < .05, and moving without
partner and without music (M ¼ –0.10, SD ¼
0.19), t(21) ¼ 2.40, p < .05 (see Figure 1).
The ANOVA for the cortisol concentrations indi-
cated a significant main effect for Music, F(1, 19)
¼ 5.45, p < .05, partial
¼ .22, and an interaction
effect between Partner and Music, F(1, 19) ¼
4.11, p < .05, partial
¼ .18. The main effect of
music suggests that there were stronger decreases
of cortisol in the music than in the no-music condi-
tions (M ¼ –0.62 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.60; and M ¼
–0.30 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.61, respectively). Post hoc
analyses revealed a significant difference between the
conditions of regular tango dancing (with partner
with music) (M ¼ –0.80 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.82) and
dancing with partner but without music (M ¼
–0.29 nmol/L, SD ¼ 0.88), t(19) ¼ 3.11, p ¼ .006.
Pairwise comparisons of baseline and posttreatment
values show that cortisol decreased in all conditions,
except when dancing with partner but without music,
with the strongest reduction of cortisol in the
Figure 1. Positive and negative affect changes during the four
experimental dance conditions. þP þM ¼ with partner with
music; þP M ¼ with partner without music; P þM ¼ without
partner with music; P M ¼ without partner without music.
Table 1. Means (and Standard Deviations) of Baseline Values for Positive and Negative Affect, Salivary Cortisol,
and Salivary Testosterone in the Four Conditions
With Partner and
With Music
With Partner and
Without Music
Without Partner and
With Music
Without Partner and
Without Music
Positive affect 22 2.50
0.51 2.58
0.48 2.30
0.60 2.10
Negative affect 22 1.30 0.26 1.21 0.19 1.32 0.29 1.19 0.26
Cortisol (nmol/L) 20 3.71 1.32 3.21 2.95 2.98 2.34 2.84 1.42
Testosterone (pg/ml) 20 21.40
13.18 18.27
10.79 22.31
13.17 24.43
Means in the row that do not share subscripts differ at p < .05.
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condition of the regular tango dancing (with partner
with music), t(19) ¼ 4.33, p < .001. Figure 2 shows
the changes in cortisol concentrations for each
The ANOVA for the testosterone changes showed a
significant main effect of Partner, F(1, 19) ¼ 4.55,
p<.05, partial
¼ .19, and a significant interaction
between Partner and Music, F(1, 19) ¼ 4.38, p<
.05, partial
¼ .19. The main effect of Partner sug-
gests that increases of testosterone levels were signif-
icantly higher in the partner than in the no-partner
conditions (M ¼ 2.66 pg/ml, SD ¼ 4.45; and M ¼
–0.260 pg/ml, SD ¼ 4.23, respectively).
Post hoc analyses showed a significant differ-
ence between the conditions of dancing with partner
but without music (M ¼ 4.15 pg/ml, SD ¼ 5.88) and
moving without partner and without music (M ¼
–1.45 pg/ml, SD ¼ 6.95), p < .05.
However, unlike the other dependent variables,
the course of testosterone concentrations was differ-
ent between Sessions 1 and 5, when the condition of
regular tango dancing (with partner and with music)
was implemented. In the first session, a significant
increase of testosterone was shown (M ¼ 4.06 pg/ml,
SD ¼ 5.77), t(19) ¼ 3.15, p < .01, while in the fifth
session, by contrast, no change was found (M ¼
–1.76 pg/ml, SD ¼ 7.19), t(19) ¼ 1.10, p ¼ .29,
which suggests an influence of order of session.
ANOVA with only the testosterone changes of the
first session for the condition of dancing with part-
ner and with music evidenced a significant main
effect of Partner, F(1, 19) ¼ 10.19, p < .01, partial
¼ .35. Furthermore, the same significant increase
of testosterone after both the condition of dancing
with partner and with music (Session 1) and the con-
dition of dancing with partner but without music was
found, t(19) ¼ 3.15, p < .01. Table 2 displays the
means and standard deviations of testosterone values
before and after each session as well as the calcu-
lated differences (posttreatment minus pretreatment
values). Males and females differ in the amount of
testosterone concentrations, although no gender dif-
ferences concerning the course of hormonal change
were found in any of the conditions.
The present study examined the emotional and hor-
monal effects of a particular form of partnered
dance, tango argentino. Specifically, changes of
emotional state and hormonal markers, namely, cor-
tisol and testosterone, were investigated across four
conditions that included dancing in the presence
versus in the absence of a partner and music.
We found evidence that the regular tango dan-
cing (with partner and with music) led to significant
increases of positive affect and to reductions of neg-
ative affect. These results corroborate previous work,
which showed improvements of self-reported emo-
tional state and well-being in response to dancing
in studies addressing a range of social groups and
dance styles (e.g., Leste
& Rust, 1990; West et al.,
Concerning the first of our two biological mea-
sures, we observed that regular tango dancing (with
partner and with music) led to significant decreases
in salivary cortisol concentrations. This effect was
further influenced by the music stimulation but not
by the presence of a dance partner. Previous work
has shown that music listening can have a decreasing
effect on cortisol levels (e.g., Kreutz et al., 2004;
ckel et al., 1994). Our data suggest that this
effect extends to a more active musical behavior.
It is worth noting that usually cortisol decreases
during the course of the day as part of its circadian
rhythm. However, the circadian rhythm of cortisol
cannot serve as an explanation for the effects found
in the present study, because the saliva samples were
always taken at the same time of the day for all
Figure 2. Salivary cortisol changes during the four experi-
mental dance conditions. þP þM ¼ with partner with music;
þP M ¼ with partner without music; P þM ¼ without
partner with music; P M ¼ without partner without music.
18 Music and Medicine / Vol. 1, No. 1, July 2009
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conditions, and we found the decreases to be signif-
icantly different between the conditions.
Our results contrast with the f indings of West
et al. (2004), who o bserved significant increases
rather than decreases of cortisol in dancers of
African rhythms over a 90-min period. The African
dancing seems to be a more vigorous activity t hat,
therefore, could have involved greater physical
effort t han was the case in our tango dance classes.
It has been shown that a physical activity leads to
increases in cortisol levels, if it exceeds certain
thresholds. For instance, when exercising with
55% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO
), an exer-
cise duration beyond 80 min is sufficient to a ctivate
the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (Tremblay,
Copeland, & Va n Helder, 2005). On the other
hand, tango dancing appears to be a moderate activ-
ity. According to Peidro et al. (2002), the VO
ing tango dancing is between 46% and 55% of
. Thus, the physical strain required by tango
dancing during 20 min is probably not sufficient to
elicit increases in c ortisol levels.
The results in this study also differ from the find-
ings of Rohleder et al. (2007). The authors examined
the cortisol changes in ballroom dancers in a
competitive situation and found increases of cortisol
levels. These increases were furthermore explained
not by the physical strain but by the psychological
stress of the social evaluative threat situation. In
contrast, the present study was not designed to eval-
uate dancing as a competition but rather the social
leisure dance activity. Therefore, participants in our
study most likely learn to dance predominantly for
pleasure and enjoyment.
Finally, significant effects of partnered dance on
testosterone changes were observed, but no gender
effects were found to influence these changes. In
traditional tango, gender roles appear to be strongly
differentiated in that the man leads and suggests the
direction, form, and tempo of the figures, while
the woman interprets and follows his movement
impulses. However, it should be noted that in pres-
ent times, the traditionally passive role of the ‘‘dom-
inated’’ woman is being changed into a more active
role, following a more balanced interplay within the
couple. This fact might reflect the similar testoster-
one responses in both males and females. On the
other hand, the differential effects that Fukui
(2001) found in males and females after passive
listening to music (testosterone increase in women,
Table 2. Means (and Standard Deviations) of Salivary Testosterone Values Before and After Each Condition and
Differences Between Pretreatment and Posttreatment Values
Testosterone (pg/ml)
Pretreatment Posttreatment Differences
Dance Condition MSDM SD MSD
With partner and with music 21.40 14.18 22.55 14.51 1.15 5.85
Males 33.55 8.16 35.10 11.46
Females 11.46 5.96 12.28 6.08
Session 1 20.73 2.76 24.78 3.45 4.06
Males 30.90 9.69 36.26 14.23
Females 12.40 6.79 15.40 8.72
Session 5 22.07 15.14 20.31 14.39 –1.17 7.19
Males 36.20 9.67 33.94 9.58
Females 10.52 5.89 9.15 3.96
With partner and without music 18.27 2.41 22.41 2.94 4.15
Males 27.96 6.71 32.77 10.57
Females 10.34 5.62 13.94 7.99
Without partner and with music 22.31 2.94 23.23 3.29 0.92 4.16
Males 33.19 10.65 35.60 11.32
Females 13.41 6.70 13.11 7.72
Without partner and without music 24.43 3.77 22.99 3.9 –1.45 6.96
Males 37.52 15.87 36.71 17.50
Females 13.73 7.60 11.77 4.85
Testosterone concentrations after both the condition of dancing with partner and with music (Session 1) and the condition of
dancing with partner but without music were significantly higher than the baselines values, t(19) ¼ 3.15, p < .01.
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decrease in males) do not seem to occur when music
is accompanied by body movement.
We found partial confirmation of our working
hypothesis that partnered dance leads to increases
of testosterone. This hypothesis was based on the
idea that the exposure to the physical proximity of
the partners elicits testosterone increases (Roney
et al., 2003). In particular, we found the expected
increase of testosterone concentrations when dan-
cing in couples within the first and the second ses-
sions only, but there was no increase when the first
condition was repeated in the fifth session. The fact
that the fifth session was also the last and was thus
associated with the prospect of the end of the study
and the free tango lessons, might have had the
potential to moderate the reactive testosterone
increases elicited when dancing with the partner.
Until n ow, no studies have addressed the possible
confounding influence of social environment
changes on this hormone, such as the implications
of a last session after repeated measu res, as was the
case in our study. The impact of the presence of a
partner on testosterone concentrations, when mea-
sured after several repeated occasions, remains also
to be explored in further studies.
Due to the small number of subjects, these
results should be interpreted with some caution.
Replications of our findings with tango dancers with
different demographic and cultural background, as
well as with samples representing other dancing
styles, using similar methods as this study, are
mandatory. Variables relating to the nature of the
dance—couple or solo dance, (un)familiarity
between partners, movement intensity, musical fea-
tures, and length of the activity—need to be consid-
ered in future research.
In summary, we found that tango dancing can be
seen as an antistress behavior capable of producing
short-term positive psychophysiological changes.
Moreover, our results show that both the presence
of music and the physical contact with a partner
differentially influence the related emotional and
hormonal responses to dancing. In particular, it was
shown that decreases in cortisol were more strongly
related to music stimulation, while increases in tes-
tosterone were, in part, related to the presence of a
partner. These results suggest that our psychophy-
siological approach appears efficient in addressing
significant areas of mental and physical well-being
and health in relation to dance. More psychophysio-
logical approaches are needed to establish a firm
empirical basis for those intervention programs that
use dancing for promoting health and well-being.
This article was part of the research conducted for a
doctoral thesis at the Goethe University of Frankfurt
am Main. The authors gratefully acknowledge the
Vereinigung von Freunden und Fo
rderern der Goethe
t for providing financial support. Grateful
thanks are also given to the Academia de Tango in
Frankfurt am Main, which allowed us to carry out
the experimental phase in its dancing localities. The
corresponding author expresses her gratitude to the
DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) for
supporting her research stay in Germany.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors have declared that there are no conflicts
of interests in the authorship and publication of this
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Cynthia Quiroga Murcia is a PhD candidate in the Department
of Psychology, Unit for Individual Differences & Psychological
Assessment, at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
Stephan Bongard is a professor in the Department of Psychol-
ogy, Unit for Individual Differences & Psychological Assess-
ment, at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
Gunter Kreutz is a professor of systematic musicology at the
Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg.
Emotional and Neurohumoral Responses to Dancing Tango / Quiroga Murcia et al. 21
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... Linked to mating effort-the amount of energy, resources, and time invested in competing for or seeking out sexual mates-testosterone may increase the number of sexual partners with whom men engage (Pollet et al., 2011). Concentrations of the hormone, for example, increase in response to interactions or cues relevant to mating (e.g., Quiroga Murcia et al., 2009;Roney et al., 2007Roney et al., , 2003Simmons and Roney, 2008;Zilioli et al., 2016Zilioli et al., , 2014 and these increases have been associated with ongoing-and/or predictive of subsequent-mate-seeking behaviors (e.g., talkativeness with and attempts to impress or take risks in front of women; Ronay and von Hippel, 2010;Roney et al., 2007Roney et al., , 2003van der Meij et al., 2012). One way through which these testosterone surges may influence sexual behavior is by modulating perceptions of attractiveness. ...
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Attractiveness judgements influence desires to initiate and maintain romantic relationships. Testosterone also predicts relationship initiation and maintenance; such effects may be driven by the hormone's modulation of attractiveness judgements, but no studies have investigated causal (and situation-dependent) effects of the hormone on these judgements. Using a placebo-controlled cross-over design, our preregistered analyses revealed order- and relationship- dependent effects: single heterosexual men judged the women as more appealing when testosterone was administered first (and placebo second), but marginally less appealing when placebo was administered first (and testosterone second). In a more complex model incorporating the women's attractiveness (as rated by an independent set of observers), however, we show that testosterone increases the appeal of women -but this effect depends upon the men's relationship status and the women's attractiveness. In partnered men (n = 53) who tend to derogate attractive alternatives (by rating them as less appealing), testosterone countered this effect, boosting the appeal of these attractive alternatives. In single men (n = 53), conversely, testosterone increased the appeal of low-attractive women. These differential effects highlight the possibility of a newly discovered mechanism whereby testosterone promotes male sexual reproduction through different routes depending on relationship status, promoting partner up- rather than down-grading when partnered and reducing choosiness when single. Further, such effects were relatively rapid [within 85 (±5) minutes], suggesting a potential non-genomic mechanism of action.
... Apart from its impacts on gait and balance [69][70][71][72][73][74], tango has been shown to improve quality of life [4], as well as individual and interpersonal activities [75]. Other observations are supported by a survey conducted by Quiroga Murcia et al. [76,77] on the advantages of dancing among adults; respondents described how dancing improves emotional and physical areas of health, and also spiritual and social domains, most notably self-esteem and coping techniques [77]. ...
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The present study examines the efficacy of tango therapy on motor and non-motor symptomatology in Parkinson’s disease, as detailed in articles published over the previous four decades (1980–2022). All data was collected using PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Science Direct. The present descriptive study outlines the advantages of tango in the rehabilitation of Parkinson’s disease’s motor and non-motor symptoms. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the usefulness of tango for people with PD. Information from various research is critical for determining if tango is a useful supplementary therapy for the variety of symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. The purpose of this review was to describe the present state of research on this subject. Thus, the objective of this review is to promote awareness of tango therapy’s therapeutic benefits for Parkinson’s disease.
... Quiroga Murcia et al. [74] showed that the plasma concentration of the stress hormone cortisol decreases during tango dancing both with and without a partner. In the same study, the authors showed that the plasma concentration of testosterone increases during tango dancing when both a partner and music are present. ...
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Transition to sustainability is a process that requires change on all levels of society from the physical to the psychological. This review takes an interdisciplinary view of the landscapes of research that contribute to the development of pro-social behaviors that align with sustainability goals, or what we call 'inner sustainability'. Engaging in musical and dance activities can make people feel trust and connectedness, promote prosocial behavior within a group, and also reduce prejudices between groups. Sustained engagement in these art forms brings change in a matter of seconds (such as hormonal changes and associated stress relief), months (such as improved emotional wellbeing and learning outcomes), and decades (such as structural changes to the brains of musicians and dancers and superior skills in expressing and understanding emotion). In this review, we bridge the often-separate domains of the arts and sciences by presenting evidence that suggests music and dance promote self-awareness, learning, care for others and wellbeing at individual and group levels. In doing so, we argue that artistic practices have a key role to play in leading the transformations necessary for a sustainable society. We require a movement of action that provides dance and music within a constructive framework for stimulating social sustainability.
... Moreover, other researchers have shown that the participation in dance programs improved self-esteem, state anxiety, well-being and mental state, while the participants assessed more positively their personal value, their competence and their relationships with others, compared to the control group that lived a sedentary lifestyle (Berrol et al., 1997;Berryman-Miller, 1988;Kim, & Kim, 2007). It is worth mentioning that aerobic dance, and similarly other types of dance, such as tango, appear to improve self-esteem and, also, state anxiety more than other types of exercise (Hos, 2005;Kim, & Kim, 2007;McKinley et al., 2008;Murcia et al., 2009). Thus, dance is one of the best forms of physical activity, through which self-esteem and state anxiety, as well, are improved. ...
The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of an online live group program with Greek traditional dances on the self-esteem and anxiety of the participants. The research involved 147 people, 43 men and 104 women, aged 49,73±8,141 years old, members of Cultural Clubs. The participants were randomly divided into the experimental group (N=75) and the control group (N=72). The experimental group participated in online live group lessons of Greek traditional dances, through the online platform ZOOM, twice a week. Each lesson had a 45-minute duration and the program lasted 12 weeks, during the quarantine imposed due to COVID-19. During the same period of 12 weeks, the control group continued its daily life in quarantine. The participants in both groups completed the Heatherton and Polivy (1991) State Self-Esteem Scale to measure performance self-esteem, social self-esteem and appearance self-esteem, as well as the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-FORM X-1 by Spielberger et al. (1970) for the measurement of state anxiety, before and after the 12-week period. The processing of the data showed that after participating in the online live group program of Greek traditional dances, the participants in the experimental group significantly increased their performance self-esteem (t=-7,75, p<0,001), social self-esteem (t=-5,23, p<0,001), and appearance self-esteem (t=-5,67, p<0,001), but they significantly reduced their state anxiety (t=7,33, p<0,001). Regarding the participants in the control group, after the 12-week period, the studied variables moved in the undesirable direction, as evidenced by the reduction in self-esteem factors and the increase in state anxiety. The results show that participating in Greek traditional dance group programs, which are conducted live online, affects positively the self-esteem and state anxiety of the participants. Consequently, during these difficult health times that the whole world is experiencing, participating in online live group programs of Greek traditional dance may improve the participants’ psychological state, offering at the same time the solution on the one hand to distance oneself from other people and on the other hand to come in contact with people.
... Otuda valjda i osećaj spokoja, sreće i zadovoljstva koji obuzme skoro svakog čoveka dok pleše. Istraživanja su pokazala da ples može da smanji nivo kortizola (Murcia, Bongard, & Kreutz, 2009;Tudor Vrinceanu et al., 2019;T Vrinceanu, Esmail, Predovan, Pruessner, & Bherer, 2017), poveća nivo serotonina (Jeong et al., 2005;Kiepe, Stöckigt, & Keil, 2012;Koch, Morlinghaus, & Fuchs, 2007), kao i da dovede do smanjenja nivoa anksioznosti i depresije, povećanja kvaliteta života, pa čak i do poboljšanja kognitivnih sposobnosti (Berrol, 1992;Koch et al., 2019;MacDonald, Kreutz, & Mitchell, 2013). ...
Conference Paper
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In the rich repertoire of sports, recreational and other activities in the field of physical culture, the average person today would probably not recognize dances or gymnastics in any way. The role of these ancient human activities is beginning to be pointed out, not only in the development of sports and the large number of sports and disciplines that arose from them, but also in education, preservation of phisical and spiritual health, emergence and development of art and culture in general. The purpose of this paper is to determine how dance and gymnastics, through their complementary effects, have contributed to the development of sports, physical culture, the art of movement, and the overall cultural heritage of mankind. The starting point in elaborating their common roles, one should look at the origis of dance and gymnastics and their original function, in accordance with the valid theories of physical culture. Furthermore, the joint contribution of dance and gymnastics in the development of the culture of the movement is analyzed through increasingly important social and historical epochs. Records of the synchronized performance of dance and gymnastic elements, more than five thousand years old, can be found on the walls of Egyptian temples, temples and palaces from the time of Mesopotamia, ancient China and India, as well as from the time of ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Today, they are part of a large number of social dances, especially sports dances. They are also widely represented in the folklore of almost all nations and cultures of the world. They are present on a large scale in the world of entertainment and marketing, but also in the world of musicals, theater, opera, ballet, film industry and all related areas of culture. The symbiosis of dance and gymnastics, which naturally stems from their complementarity, has greatly contributed and played an extremely important role in the emergence and development of a large number of sports and other forms of physical culture.
... However, listening to music reduced cortisol levels in the morning in both sleep conditions. This finding is consistent with that of Murcia et al. (2009), who found that listening to music reduces cortisol concentration. However, it seems that the decrease in cortisol levels during listening to music may be music-type dependent (Khalfa et al. 2003). ...
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This study assessed the effect of time of day (TOD) and listening to music during warm-up on cognitive and physical performances after partial sleep deprivation (PSD) and normal sleep nights (NSN). In a randomized order, twelve male physical education students [mean (SD) age 20.3 ± 2.0 y; BMI 22.90 ± 3.57 kg/m²)] completed a 30-s Wingate test (i.e., mean (MP) and peak powers (PP)), simple (SRT) and choice reaction times (CRT), a mental rotation test (MRT) and a selective attention test. Measurements were performed at 07:00 h and 17:00 h after a NSN and PSD with and without music, with an in-between recovery period of ≥72. Salivary cortisol was measured before and immediately after the Wingate test. Compared to NSN, the results showed that PSD decreased PP (p < .05, d = 0.86) and MP (p < .01, d = 0.86) in the afternoon. However, compared to NSN, listening to music during the warm up after PSD enhanced PP (p < .01, d = 1.40) and MP (p < .05, d = 0.82) in the morning and PP (p < .05, d = 0.78) in the afternoon. Moreover, listening to music lowered post-exercise cortisol in the morning both after NSN (p < .05, d = 0.79) and PSD (p < .05, d = 0.11). After PSD, music reduced the negative mood states (p < .01, d = 0.94), the SRT (p < .05, d = 0.79) and the CRT (p < .05, d = 0.49) in the afternoon. These findings suggest that listening to music during warm-up (i) enhances cognitive and short-term all out performances after NSN and PSD and (ii) partially counteracts sleep-loss-induced degradation of physical and cognitive performances at both TODs.
... There is a rich literature on the often immense pleasure associated with dance, whether engaging in dancing, or observing other people dancing [3 ,11,35,36]. For example, tango dancing with a partner leads to significant increases of positive affect, and reductions of negative affect [37]. In general, dancing in a group also engenders social cohesion and feelings of trust [38]. ...
Across human cultures, music is an important source of emotion, including positive emotions and pleasurable experiences. Our brains and bodies are moved by music as part of an active process in which our brains are constantly generating predictions of what is likely to happen next. The constituent elements of music (melody, harmony, and rhythm) are processed in an active, sustained musical pleasure cycle that gives rise to action, emotion, and learning, led by activity in specific brain networks. The ‘sweet anticipation’ stage of this pleasure cycle is both highly motivating and pleasurable. Here, we highlight research on how music, groove and dance can generate positive emotion. Especially in the case of dance, an important element of this collective positive emotion arises from engagement with other people. Yet, most neuroscientific research on music to date has focused on an individual processing music passively, rather than interacting, and until now very little neuroscientific research has been undertaken on dance. We therefore argue that future research would do well to focus on the dynamics and underlying brain mechanisms of the collective experience of music making and dance.
Background Fatigue, sleep disturbance, and depression are frequent concurrent symptoms in patients with breast cancer. Exercise is a promising strategy for symptom management, but the effect of dance as an exercise modality for managing the fatigue–sleep disturbance–depression symptom cluster has not been evaluated yet. Objectives This study examined the effects of a 16-week dance program on reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life of patients with breast cancer who underwent adjuvant chemotherapy. Methods A prospective, assessor-blinded, two-arm randomized controlled design was used. Adult female patients with breast cancer who were scheduled for adjuvant chemotherapy were recruited from two university-affiliated hospitals in a city in northwest China. Participants in the dance group received six sessions of hospital-based dance instruction and 16 weeks of home-based practice. The dance intervention was culturally adapted for the Chinese population. The control group received general health consultation. Outcomes including fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and quality of life were evaluated at baseline and after the third and sixth cycles of chemotherapy. The intention-to-treat principle and a generalized estimating equation were used to analyze data. Results A total of 279 individuals were assessed for eligibility, and 176 eligible participants were successfully recruited. The majority of the participants (n = 140, 79.6%) were diagnosed with stages I–II breast cancer and had undergone mastectomy (n = 155, 88.1%). The baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. Patients in the intervention group reported less severe fatigue, sleep disturbance, and depression. In addition, a lower incidence of the symptom cluster (P = 0.003) and an increase in quality of life (P = 0.001) were found in the intervention group compared with the control group at T2. Conclusions A culturally specific dance intervention is a promising method for managing the fatigue-sleep disturbance-depression symptom cluster and promoting the quality of life in Chinese women with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. Given its acceptability and practicality, this program may be incorporated in routine cancer care.
The positive health impacts of dance and dance/movement therapy can be seen all the way down to the molecular level. This narrative-style review illustrates this connection by presenting a collection of clinical and preclinical studies that evaluate the effects of dance activities on hormones and other small-molecule metabolites within the human body. The results of these studies show that dance activities can increase levels of nitric oxide, serotonin, estrogen hormones, and HDL cholesterol, while they can decrease levels of dopamine, serum glucose, serum triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. Levels of cortisol can either be increased or decreased, depending on the type of dance. Many of these results parallel the biomolecular effects of traditional (non-dance) exercise activities, although some contrasting results can also be seen. The concentrations of these molecules and their distributions throughout the body impact health and a wide variety of disease states. This connection to the molecular level provides a perspective for understanding how it is that dance activities are able to affect larger-scale physiological and psychological responses and lead to the positive health outcomes that are observed in many situations.
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Objective: Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian movement art, incorporates elements of dance, martial arts, music, and physical improvisation between partners, comprising a social “game.” The sport has expanded globally from Brazil over the last several decades. However, the potential psychological benefits of capoeira have not previously been scientifically investigated. Inspired by research suggesting the benefits of exercise, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices, this pilot study investigated whether engagement in one session of capoeira was associated with altered state anxiety (SA), state self-efficacy (SSE), and prosocial behavior tendencies (PBT) compared to control activities of cooperative or combative movement or a non-movement control (acro-yoga, savate, and a graduate-level mathematics class). Methods: Capoeiristas (n = 117) and controls (n = 15) in the area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil completed self-report questionnaires measuring SA, SSE, and PBT before and after a session of capoeira or control activities. PBT was subdivided into pain-specific (helping a person in physical need) and money-lending-specific (loaning funds to someone in need) behavioral tendencies. The various control groups were combined due to their small samples. Pre-post changes were analyzed and compared for capoeiristas vs. controls using mixed design ANOVAs. Results: One session of capoeira corresponded to a significant decrease in SA and an increase in state self- efficacy (pre- to post- session); however, this change did not differ significantly from similar pre- to post- session changes observed for the control activities. In contrast, there was a significant interaction of time (pre-post) and activity (capoeira vs. controls) for both overall PBT, F(1,120) = 11.32, P = .001, and pain-specific PBT, F(1,120) = 11.315, P = .0001. Specifically, while control participants appeared less likely to exhibit PBT after (vs. before) their sessions, no decrease in this behavior was observed after a session of capoeira. Conclusion: While acknowledging limitations, such as the small samples and diverse nature of the control activities, this pilot study suggests the value of continued investigation into the potential effects of engaging in cooperative movement, such as capoeira, on certain psychological variables, particularly prosocial behavior tendencies. In addition to considering potential transient (state) effects, potential longitudinal effects of capoeira could also be of interest, as has been suggested for mindfulness and yoga practices.
A German adaptation of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) is presented, the factorial structure as well as the internal consistency are analyzed and external associations are described. A principal component analysis of state affect (N=349; instruction: "How do you feel at the moment") and trait affect(N=480; instruction: .,... In general") resulted in a distinct two-factor solution labeled "Positive Affectivity" (PA) and "Negative Affectivity" (NA). Applying four additional time-oriented instructions ("How did you feel today - during the past few days - weeks - the past yea"), an internal validation study indicated that as time intervals increase, the influence of the state affect decreases, whereas that of the trait affect increases. Trait PA and NA furthermore yielded differential associations with global personality traits and variables within the areas of anxiety, reporting of symptoms, and emotions, as well as stress management.
In a naturalistic pre-post design, samples of saliva were collected from the members of a professional chorale during an early rehearsal (n = 31), a late rehearsal (n = 34) and a public performance (n = 32) of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. As measures of immune system response, mean levels of secretory immunoglobulin A increased significantly, as a proportion of whole protein, 150% during rehearsals and 240% during the performance. Cortisol concentrations decreased significantly an average of 30% during rehearsals and increased 37% during performance. As measured through performance perception rating scales, a group of emotions and other experiential states that singers associated with professional singing were highly predictive of changes in level of secretory immunoglobulin A during the performance condition, but the results for the rehearsal conditions were not significant. The best multiple regression model for performance level of immunoglobulin A (p < .0015) included seven emotional, cognitive, and evaluative variables generally associated with choral singing, including levels of mood before and during singing, stress, relaxation, feeling "high," detachment/engagement, and specific satisfaction with the immediate performance.
In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
Compared to the knowledge of physiological processes associated with stress, ill-health, and disease, the understanding of physiological processes associated with positive psychological functioning is lagging behind. The present study aimed to examine the relationships between psychological well-being and physiological indicators, including blood pressure, catecholamines, and cortisol. Initial questionnaires concerning demographic information, work characteristics (decision authority, job demands, and skill discretion), physical symptoms, nicotine use, and Ryff's Psychological Well-Being scales (RPWB) which cover self-acceptance, environmental mastery, positive relations with others, personal growth, purpose in life and autonomy, were completed by a group of highly educated white-collar workers. Subsequent assessments of blood pressure, urinary catecholamines, and salivary cortisol were performed during two separate workdays. Analyses of data from 12 women and 11 men revealed that individuals with high psychological well-being had significantly lower total cortisol output than individuals with low psychological well-being (p < 0.01), while no significant differences emerged for blood pressure and catecholamines. Further, individuals with high psychological well-being had significantly lower levels of general (p < 0.01) as well as musculoskeletal symptoms (p < 0.01). In conclusion, the findings suggest a link between positive psychological functioning and lowered cortisol release. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This study tested for behavioral and hormonal reactions of young men to brief social encounters with potential mating partners. Male college students were randomly assigned to engage in a short conversation with either a young man (male condition) or a young woman (female condition). Participants provided saliva samples before and after the conversation, completed a battery of psychological measures after the interaction, and had their behavior rated by their conversation partners. Salivary testosterone (T) increased significantly over baseline levels in the female condition only, though differences between conditions were not significant. In addition, change in T was significantly correlated with the degree to which the female confederates thought the male participants were trying to impress them. These behavioral ratings, in turn, were correlated with the participants' ratings of the female confederates as potential romantic partners. Results were generally consistent with the hypothesis that human males may exhibit a behavioral and endocrine courtship response that is similar to that observed in males of many nonhuman vertebrate species.
Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths in older adults (Murphy 2000), and they can lead to fear of falling, reduced quality of life, withdrawal from activities, and injury. Changes in joint ranges of motion, strength, sensory processing, and sensorimotor integration all contribute to reduced balance stability with increasing age and these changes are paralleled in those with Parkinson Disease (PD). Interventions, such as traditional exercises tailored specifically for seniors and/or individuals with PD, have addressed balance and gait difficulties in an attempt to reduce fall rates with mixed, undocumented results. Argentine tango dancing has recently emerged as a promising non-traditional approach to ameliorating balance and gait problems among elderly individuals. The goal of this study was to determine whether the functional mobility benefits noted in elders following a tango dancing program might also extend to older individuals with PD. We compared the effects of tango to those of traditional exercise on functional mobility in individuals with and without PD. We predicted that the functional mobility and quality of life gains noted with Argentine tango would be greater than those noted with traditional strength/flexibility exercise. Thirty-eight subjects (19 control and 19 with PD) were assigned to 20 hour-long exercise or tango classes that were completed within 13weeks. Although all groups showed gains in certain measures, only the Parkinson Tango group improved on all measures of balance, falls and gait. Moreover, upon terminating the program the Parkinson Tango group was more confident about balance than the Parkinson Exercise group. In psychosocial terms, both groups largely enjoyed their experiences because the classes fostered community involvement and became a source of social support for the members. Our results suggest that Argentine tango is an appropriate, enjoyable, and beneficial activity for the healthy elderly and those with PD and that tango may convey benefits not obtained with a more traditional exercise program.
The assessment of cortisol in saliva has proven a valid and reliable reflection of the respective unbound hormone in blood. To date, assessment of cortisol in saliva is a widely accepted and frequently employed method in psychoneuroendocrinology. Due to several advantages over blood cortisol analyses (e.g., stress-free sampling, laboratory independence, lower costs) saliva cortisol assessment can be the method of choice in basic research and clinical environments. The determination of cortisol in saliva can facilitate stress studies including newborns and infants and replace blood sampling for diagnostic endocrine tests like the dexamethasone suppression test. The present paper provides an up-to-date overview of recent methodological developments, novel applications as well as a discussion of possible future applications of salivary cortisol determination.
A variety of studies reported psychological and physiological effects of music. Different types of music have been found to induce different neuroendocrine changes. The aim of the present experiment was to investigate the possible combination of emotional and endocrine changes in response to techno-music and to define personality variables as predictors of respective changes. Sixteen psychosomatically healthy subjects (18- to 19-year-olds, eight males and eight females) were exposed, in random order, to techno-music or to classical music (30 min each). Plasma norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (EPI), growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) cortisol (CORT), beta-endorphin (beta-EP) concentrations and changes of emotional state were measured in basal conditions and after the experimental trials with two different types of music. Techno-music was associated with a significant increase in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and significant changes in self-rated emotional states. A significant increase was observed in beta-EP, ACTH, NE, GH and CORT after listening to techno-music. Classical music induced an improvement in emotional state, but no significant changes in hormonal concentrations. No differences between male and female subjects' responses to music have been found. Plasma levels of PRL and EPI were unaffected by techno- and classical music. Changes in emotional state and NE, beta-EP and GH responses to techno-music correlated negatively with harm avoidance scores and positively with the novelty-seeking temperament score on the Cloninger scale. Listening to techno-music induces changes in neurotransmitters, peptides and hormonal reactions, related to mental state and emotional involvement: personality traits and temperament may influence the wide inter-individual variability in response to music.