A music professor at Arizona State University is doing a study looking at whether and in what circumstances playing music leads to an oxytocin release. Gary Hill, a band directo, got a seed grant from Institute for Humanities Research. His study is called, “Oxytocin: Fueling Music’s Power in Human Emotions, Memory and Restoration.”
Hill drew blood from 10 music students before and after they played in an ensemble, in a small group, and alone. He also asked them questions about their mood.
He'll present his results in a paper on October 10, as part of a conference called "Oxytocin and Music." Other presenters:
Dr. Claudius Conrad, a research fellow at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, who also is a concert pianist, ""Hormonal Changes Secondary to Music in Very Ill Intensive Care Patients."
• Dr. Walter Freeman, director of the Freeman Laboratory for Nonlinear Neurodynamics and professor emeritus of neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley, "The Putative Role of the Intermittent Release of Oxytocin for Unlearning in Alteration With learning in Social contexts."
• Joanne V. Loewy, director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, title TBA.
• Steven Mithen, dean and professor of archaeology at the School of Human and Environmental Sicneces, University of Reading, UK, "Learning to Sing: Evolutionary and developmental Perspectives."
• Dr. Tores Theorell, professor emeritus of psychosocial environmental medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, "Examining and Comparing Parasymphathetic System Activitiy in Pianists, Flute Players and Singers."
It's fascinating that a non-medical, non-scientific researcher is doing this work -- and that a humanities organization funded it. Read the press release here.