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Music increase altruism through regulating the secretion of steroid hormones and peptides

Music increase altruism through regulating the secretion of steroid
hormones and peptides
Hajime Fukui
, Kumiko Toyoshima
Department of Education, Nara University of Education, Nara, Japan
article info
Article history:
Received 28 June 2014
Accepted 29 September 2014
Available online xxxx
Music is well known for its effect on human behavior especially of their bonding and empathy towards
others. Music provokes one’s emotion and activates mirror neurons and reward system. It also regulates
social hormones such as steroid hormones or peptides, and increases empathy, pro-sociality and altru-
ism. As a result, it improves one’s reproductive success.
Ó2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Charles Darwin [1] noted the mysterious quality that lies in
man’s capacity to create music [2]. Indeed, what is the true value
of music, which fascinates many scientists, if it does not have an
adaptive function or survival value? The ability of music to absorb
and captivate people remains an enigma.
The main function of music has been thought to unite society
which is vital for basic human life [3]. In fact, music is used in var-
ious forms including dancing to harmonize groups and emotions
and prepare for cooperative activity [4]. Music may possess survi-
val benefits through ‘‘the socialization of emotions’’ [5]. Music
seems to have a function to reinforce social bonding by sharing
emotional experiences [6]. Primates used physical grooming to
strengthen social bonding, which trigger endorphin activation in
the central nervous system [7]. There are reports that group sing-
ing release endorphin, thus singing is to mimic the neural effects
of physical grooming in primates [8–11].
Pro-social behavior and empathy are closely linked on a concep-
tual level. The evidence shows that sharing emotions of others
(empathy) is associated with neural structures’ activation (mirror
neuron) [12]. Music is renowned for its increase in empathy thus
resulting in pro-social behavior. Factually, music does strengthen
one’s coping skill and sympathy [13,14]. Empathy has grown in
order to enhance human survival and propagating adaptation,
which was quintessential for human society to evolve into the
one we have now.
The hypothesis
We propose that musical behavior (listening and performing)
increase altruism by adjusting the secretion of steroid hormones
(testosterone, estrogen and cortisol) and peptides (oxytocin and
arginine vasopressin) ultimately facilitating reproductive success.
Evaluation of the hypothesis
Music and emotion, limbic system
Emotions induced by music have attracted the attention of
many researchers [15]. Notoriously, music has the ability to
strongly affect one’s emotion and sometimes even control them
[16], though science has yet to provide a satisfying explanation
for this phenomenon.
Recent studies have revealed that the emotions evoked by
music can modulate activity in all the limbic and paralimbic brain
structures which deeply contribute to emotions [17], and that
those emotions tend to be stronger than everyday feelings or
moods; therefore, they are registered as a strong experience [18]
and are associated with particular brain activity [19].
Music and mirror neurons
Emotions induced by music are thought to be associated with
the action of mirror neurons and the limbic system [20]. Auditory
mirror neurons system is vital for understanding auditory action
and evolution of language. Some evidences support the indication
of the human mirror neuron system mediating musical experi-
ences [21,22]. Studies on musicians and dancers have reported that
the internal experience of music modulates the activity of the
human mirror neuron system [23]. Recent researches using func-
0306-9877/Ó2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author at: Department of Education, Nara University of
Education, Takabatake, Nara 630-8528, Japan. Tel./fax: +81 742 27 9257.
E-mail address: (H. Fukui).
Medical Hypotheses xxx (2014) xxx–xxx
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Please cite this article in press as: Fukui H, Toyoshima K. Music increase altruism through regulating the secretion of steroid hormones and peptides.Med
Hypotheses (2014),
tional neuroimaging have discovered that chill-inducing music lis-
tening activates mirror neuron system, which is closely related to
empathy [22]. Chill-inducing music listening particularly elicits
limbic system especially reward system, Nucleus accumbens, ven-
tral tegmental area, hypothalamus, insular cortex, and orbitofron-
tal cortex, to be operated [20].
Mirror neurons and empathy
Mirror neurons are believed to have a relationship with empa-
thy, one of brain functions that are more sophisticated. It has been
suggested that the emotional response caused by listening to a
musical performance by other human beings are also considered
as an empathic process [22,24,25].
Music and empathy, altruism
Empathy is a central mechanism provoked by music-induced
emotions [26]. Furthermore, it is believed that human altruism is
engendered by empathy [27]. Having taken the mentioned
researches’ discovery, music, which causes dramatic emotional
changes, suggests having a significant effect on altruistic behavior
Several studies have been conducted on music and altruism, or
pro-social behavior [28,29]. Rhythmic activity with drums with a
partner in primary school elicits a specific human motivation to
synchronize [30]. In addition, music making, including joint sing-
ing, encourages participants to maintain a collective intention
and shared goal of vocalizing and moving together in time, thereby
effectively satisfying the intrinsic human desire to share emotions,
experiences, and activities with others [28]. Studies have indicated
that music can mediate several behaviors related tangentially to
altruism, aggression [31], and spending money at the school cafe-
teria [32].
Listening to music can be a highly rewarding experience for
humans. Studies have shown that a positive mood encourages
pro-social behaviors. There have also been reports that both posi-
tive and negative moods promote altruism and pro-social beha-
viors [33,34]. It has been found, for example, that audiotapes can
induce positive moods; thereby increasing altruism thus rising in
pro-social behavior (economic games) [35]. Pro-social songs were
associated with a significant increase in tipping behavior [36].
Music, hormones and genes
There is strong evidence that empathy has biochemical and
neurological grounds such as limbic system [25]. Steroid hormones
(STs) affect social behavior [37,38] such as reciprocity [39] and par-
ental care [40].
It has been found that music listening regulates STs: cortisol (C),
testosterone (T), estrogen (E) [41,42] and has a notable effect on
dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters, to be produced [43].It
is believed that music confers neuronal plasticity and is involved
in the learning process and readjustment. An example is the
response of brain cells to musical stimuli. This effect is considered
to be persistent, although the precise mechanism remains
unknown [44–46].
STs may hold the key to unlock the mechanism that underlies
the effect of music on neurons because they confer neuronal plas-
ticity. In particular, T and E are deeply involved in brain cell regen-
eration, restoration, and protection. They also have strong
connections with recognition, memory, and emotion thus may be
associated with mental disorders [41]. STs have each been impli-
cated in complex social behavior [47–49].
On the other hand, oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin
(AVP) are deeply connected to social-emotional, social cognitive
and empathetic behaviors [48,50,51]. There are many reports that
OT and oxytocin receptor (OTR) influence social behaviors [e.g.
[52]]. It is particularly noteworthy that OT increase pair-bonding
and partner preference in Prairie vole [53] whereas for human, it
has no such effect [54] but increases phenotypic-cooperation
[55]. OTR can be found in human brain areas such as amygdala,
hypothalamus, subgenual cingulate cortex and olfactory bulb,
which are linked with emotion and social behavior [56].
There are not enough researches to be conducted to establish a
firm conclusion about the relationship between OT or AVP and
music. However, OT level had increased when patients had listened
to music after they had had open-heart surgery [57]. Additionally,
Williams Syndrome patients show an intense interest in music and
are often pro-social, and their OT level is higher than controlled
group [58]. OT, though not vasopressin, increases altruism [59].It
is still inconclusive but highly probable that AVP modulates musi-
cal working memory indirectly by influencing mood, attention and
arousal [60].
T is implicated in tradeoffs relevant to pair-bonding, and OT and
arginine vasopressin (AVP) are positively tied to social bonding in
various species [48]. For male, music listening decreases T level
while lowering T accelerates OT effect [48].
Several studies investigated the development of sexually
dimorphic AVP systems in mammals and other vertebrates, and
the role gonadal hormones played in their regulation [61].Itis
hypothesized that androgens, via actions of their receptors, have
roles in the organization and modulation of the AVP parvocellular
sexually dimorphic system [62].
The relationship between arginine vasopressin receptor (AVPR)
and sociality has been illustrated in several reports. Recent studies
demonstrated associations between microsatellites (RS1 and RS3)
in the promoter region of arginine vasopressin receptor 1A and
social behavior [63,64] and music [65]. A coalition has been found
between AVP/AVPR and human musical ability [42,50,58,66–69].
Music is cogently related to steroid receptor polymorphism and
arginine-vasopressin (AVP) receptor polymorphism [42,70]. More-
over, steroid receptors: glucocorticoid receptor, androgen receptor,
estrogen receptor, are distributed widely over brain: hypothala-
mus, hippocampus, amygdala.
Above dates and figures suggest that music regulates social hor-
mones: C, T, E, OT and AVP, which activates brain areas such as pre-
frontal cortex and limbic system, closely associated with empathy
and sociality. This activation then lowers egocentric and aggressive
action resulting in pro-social behaviors. Consequently, music is
thought to have enhanced human reproductive success.
Conflict of interest
Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest in this study.
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H. Fukui, K. Toyoshima / Medical Hypotheses xxx (2014) xxx–xxx 3
Please cite this article in press as: Fukui H, Toyoshima K. Music increase altruism through regulating the secretion of steroid hormones and peptides.Med
Hypotheses (2014),
... Indeed, in a group of 20 healthy volunteers, listening to waltz music (by J. Strauss) does not lead to hormonal changes, while listening to modern classic music (by H. W. Henze) leads to a decrease in prolactin values and listening to meditative music (by R. Shankar) leads to a decrease in plasma cortisol, noradrenaline, atrial natriuretic peptide and tissue plasminogen activator concentrations [16]. Music also regulates social hormones (i.e., steroid hormones and peptides), which activate brain areas closely associated with empathy and sociality, resulting in pro-social behaviors [32]. Thus, music may have enhanced human reproductive success [32]. ...
... Music also regulates social hormones (i.e., steroid hormones and peptides), which activate brain areas closely associated with empathy and sociality, resulting in pro-social behaviors [32]. Thus, music may have enhanced human reproductive success [32]. A summary of the effects of music on the endocrine system is reported in Figure 1. ...
... Indeed, in a group of 20 healthy volunteers, listening (by J. Strauss) does not lead to hormonal changes, while listening to moder (by H. W. Henze) leads to a decrease in prolactin values and listening to me (by R. Shankar) leads to a decrease in plasma cortisol, noradrenaline, at peptide and tissue plasminogen activator concentrations [16]. Music also r hormones (i.e., steroid hormones and peptides), which activate brain areas ated with empathy and sociality, resulting in pro-social behaviors [32]. Th have enhanced human reproductive success [32]. ...
Full-text available
Although a longer life may bring new opportunities for older people and society, advancing age is a leading risk factor for developing several chronic diseases, consequently limiting the health span. During the ageing process, changes in the activity of several endocrine glands may occur, leading to different clinical conditions. Being physically active becomes fundamental for healthy ageing. Despite regular physical activity being shown to have many health benefits, patients with cancer and neurodegenerative diseases remain physically inactive. Over the past two decades, there has been a major increase in arts engagement (e.g., dance and music) on health and well-being in both clinical and non-clinical contexts. Dance and music have been shown to induce positive effects on hormonal glands, patients’ sociality, and self-confidence. Therefore, this review aims to highlight evidence regarding the effects of music and dance on hormonal responses and as preventive and compliance tools for heathy ageing in breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease patients.
... It has been proved that in humans and rodents, steroid hormones confer some sort of neuronal plasticity but also they have effects over the immune system or mood states. Several empirical evidences would make plausible to assert that music confers neuronal plasticity by affecting steroid hormones and alleviating or relieving stress (Fukui and Toyoshima 2014). Moderately higher levels of testosterone in women (positive correlation) and lower levels of testosterone in men (negative correlation) compared to their basal nonmusicians groups was found, indicating an effect of T in better talents for music. ...
... Moderately higher levels of testosterone in women (positive correlation) and lower levels of testosterone in men (negative correlation) compared to their basal nonmusicians groups was found, indicating an effect of T in better talents for music. Moreover, a tendency but not significant to a positive relationship between a polymorphism (repeat length) in the androgen receptor (AR) and T levels was described (Fukui and Toyoshima 2014). ...
Full-text available
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose language of sounds and silences is organized in time with logic and sensitivity. Originally, the word derives from Greek mousiké [téchnē] that means the "technique of Muses." It combines harmony, melody, rhythm, pitch, meter, timbre, etc. to create psychoanimic states with hormones, steroids, and other metabolic endogen compounds contributing to those effects.
... Through the work with individual songs, the referential improvisation, and the choice and singing of a group song for the session closure, the aim was to promote confidence, trust, and group cohesion. Preliminary studies suggest that music experiences may influence oxytocin (Harvey, 2020) and vasopressin hormones (Fukui & Toyoshima, 2014) linked to positive relationships and confidence, crucial features in mental health treatment (Legge, 2015). ...
Introduction In cases of schizophrenia and other psychoses, a comprehensive strategy that combines psychopharmacology with psychosocial interventions is often used to address symptoms, cognitive deficits, social functioning, and quality of life. The aim of this research was to carry out a randomized controlled trial to determine the effects of a music therapy (MT) treatment protocol on quality of life (primary outcome), symptoms, self-esteem, internalized stigma, social cognition, and social functioning (secondary outcomes), when implemented in combination with standard pharmacological and psychosocial rehabilitation (treatment as usual, TAU). Method Sixty clinically stable outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychoses were randomly allocated to one of two groups: One group was administered TAU (n = 30) and the other TAU + MT (n = 30). The MT component consisted of 22 sessions of evidence-based MT. Outcome measures were obtained before and after treatment using a masked assessment process. Results A total of 57 participants completed the study. All participants were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. Differences between the groups were observed for internalized stigma (η2=.46), social functioning (η2=.18) and quality of life (η2=.25), with the TAU + MT group showing significantly greater improvements than the control group. Discussion The results obtained support the benefits of incorporating a MT treatment protocol as a complementary therapy to standard treatment.
... For instance, some persuasion methods (e.g., the door in the face technique; Cialdini, 2009) involve the source using specific types of content in a specific procedure (e.g., making a big request then a smaller request). Other methods involve varying processes' complexity (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa, 2009) or adding non-verbal stimuli (Fukui & Toyoshima, 2014) or cues (Higdon, 2008). Third, variables in Lasswell's (1948) model cannot easily accommodate data on information processing (i.e., how receivers process the stimuli they receive). ...
... For instance, some methods of persuasion (e.g., the door in the face technique; Cialdini, 2009) involve the source using specific types of content in a specific procedure (e.g., making a big request, then a smaller request). Other methods involve varying the complexity of processes (Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa, 2009), or adding non-verbal stimuli (Fukui & Toyoshima, 2014), or cues (Higdon, 2008). ...
Full-text available
Information Systems (IS) researchers persistently examine how Information and Communications Technology (ICT) changes attitudes and behaviours but rarely leverage the persuasion literature when doing so. The hesitance of IS researchers to leverage persuasion literature may be due to this literature's well-documented complexity. This study aims to reduce the difficulty of understanding and applying persuasion theory within IS research. The study achieves this aim by developing a common frame of reference to help IS researchers to conceptualise persuasion and to conceptually differentiate persuasion from related concepts. In doing this, the study also comprehensively summarises existing research and theory and provides a set of suggestions to guide future IS research into persuasion and behaviour change.
... The experimental group experienced enhanced inner balance, vitality, and vigilance in response to the vibroacoustic treatment, which was not observed in the control group [4]. Diverse studies suggest that music regulates social hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, oxytocin, and arginine vasopressin, which could explain these results [5]. ...
Purpose: Music has recognized beneficial effects on cancer patients; however, very little is known about the molecular processes which produce these benefits. The aim of this work was to evaluate the effect of music on proliferation and gene expression in gastric cancer cells. Methods: AGS gastric cancer cells were exposed to metal and classical music, and subsequently cell proliferation and expression of genes associated with apoptosis and cell-cycle control were evaluated. Results: Proliferation of AGS cells increased when exposed to metal music, but not when exposed to classical music. Gene expression of caspase-3 and 8 and cyclin B1 increased in response to both musical genres; classical music repressed the expression of p53, and metal music repressed the expression of PUMA. Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate music as a modulator of gene expression in a cancer cell line. Additional experiments are required to better understand the mechanisms of how different musical genres can induce changes in gene expression.
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The Americas are a strong example of the intense connection between music and politics. Beyond the state-driven attempts in the Americas to link musical production to the official narration of the nation, massive, innovative musical movements have emerged since the 20th century that provide countercultural and alternative narrations of the social context.
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In animals, the sound vibrations are captured by the auditory cells, then transformed into electrical signals and conveyed to the nervous centers where they can be interpreted such as music. A lot of studies concern the effect of sound on the auditory cells and on the brain. Nevertheless, musical vibrations also affect other cells types in several organisms. These researches being not of the same nature, they need to be classified in order to provide elements of understanding the effects of music on cell biology. A lot of works were done on the effects of music on non-auditory cells. Effects on growth, apoptosis, immune system, protein activities in animal, plant and bacterial cells have been shown. These effects are of a physiological nature and require molecules and physicochemical mechanisms. Some works were performed on vegetal or animal total organisms, others directly on cells themselves, using cell cultures. Few works concern eukaryotic unicellular organisms. Results of these studies show music and sound exert effects on the physiology. But the experiments and results are still well disparate, with effects of different types of music on organisms via auditory on non-auditory cells, sometimes involving both auditory and non-auditory cells. Whatever the large variation of results, the study of the effects of sound and especially music on the cells is a subject on the future, considering the immense possibilities offered by music in modulating physiology, with potential therapeutic applications.
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The phenomenon of empathy entails the ability to share the affective experiences of others. In recent years social neuroscience made considerable progress in revealing the mechanisms that enable a person to feel what another is feeling. The present review provides an in-depth and critical discussion of these findings. Consistent evidence shows that sharing the emotions of others is associated with activation in neural structures that are also active during the first-hand experience of that emotion. Part of the neural activation shared between self- and other-related experiences seems to be rather automatically activated. However, recent studies also show that empathy is a highly flexible phenomenon, and that vicarious responses are malleable with respect to a number of factors--such as contextual appraisal, the interpersonal relationship between empathizer and other, or the perspective adopted during observation of the other. Future investigations are needed to provide more detailed insights into these factors and their neural underpinnings. Questions such as whether individual differences in empathy can be explained by stable personality traits, whether we can train ourselves to be more empathic, and how empathy relates to prosocial behavior are of utmost relevance for both science and society.
In the first comprehensive study of the relationship between music and language from the standpoint of cognitive neuroscience, the author challenges the widespread belief that music and language are processed independently. Since Plato's time, the relationship between music and language has attracted interest and debate from a wide range of thinkers. Recently, scientific research on this topic has been growing rapidly, as scholars from diverse disciplines including linguistics, cognitive science, music cognition, and neuroscience are drawn to the music-language interface as one way to explore the extent to which different mental abilities are processed by separate brain mechanisms. Accordingly, the relevant data and theories have been spread across a range of disciplines. This book provides the first synthesis, arguing that music and language share deep and critical connections, and that comparative research provides a powerful way to study the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying these uniquely human abilities.
This article describes the development of a new mutual support group intervention for long-term care homes (LTCH); evaluates the processes, structure, and content of the intervention; and addresses replication and sustainability. Tom Kitwood's model of personhood is used as the basis for developing a weekly discussion group using themes chosen by participants and theme-associated music, readings, and photographs. A mixed-methods qualitative process evaluation design encompasses focus groups, systematic observation of six resident groups, individual resident interviews (N = 65), and staff interviews (N = 7) in three LTCH in British Columbia, Canada. Resident reports and observations indicate positive benefits including a decrease in loneliness, the development of friendships, and increased coping skills, understanding, and support. Participating staff reported numerous benefits and described how the unique group structure fosters active participation of residents with moderate-severe cognitive impairment. This preliminary study suggests that mutual support groups have potential to offset loneliness, helplessness, and depression within LTCH.