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Choir Members’ Hearts Beat in Time With Each Other

According to a new study, choir members may be mimicking not only their fellow choristers’ voices but also their heartbeats

Image Credit: Gareth Saunders via Flickr

Part of the beauty of listening to a choir is listening to how individual voices blend together in harmony. And, according to a new study, choir members may be mimicking not only their fellow choristers’ voices but also their heartbeats. From the BBC:

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.”

Using a sample of 15 choir members, the researchers found that their heartbeats were most in sync during slow chants, and that heart rates were generally reduced while singing as a part of a choir. They think this synchronicity might go even further, writing in the paper:

Our study suggests that people who sing together tend to synchronize biologically in various respects. Eighty percent of the neural traffic between the heart and the brain goes from the heart to the brain. The natural question is how this affects the behavior of individuals and their perception of the world (during singing and after). Does choral singing produce a common perspective? How could such a perspective be manifested and measured?

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