An Investigation into the Possible Impact of Early-Life Stress on Music as a Stress-Reduction Tool

Student: Sarah Vandenbergen
Major: Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience
Minor: Music
Advisor: Dr. John Neuhoff, Dr. Grit Herzmann

Music is common stress-reduction tool, though the literature to support this is often inconsistent. A possible confounding variable is stress system dysregulation caused by early-life stress. This study presented participants with stressful images, followed by music or silence to measure how early stress effects the stress response. Measures of early life stress included ACE score (adversity) and maternal education (socioeconomic status). Music facilitated more recovery than silence. ACE score was a covariate correlated with stress reactivity, while maternal education was not a covariate and only associated with the amount of change in stress. Neither was related to overall post-recovery stress. This demonstrates that any effects of stress system dysregulation are negated by the effect of music on recovery. Early-life adversity may confound studies of relaxing music because it is related to reactivity. As adversity does not affect recovery, it should not affect the efficacy of music as a stress-reduction tool.

*This presentation is only available to College of Wooster students, faculty, and staff.*

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Sarah will be online to field comments on May 8:
Noon-2pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium, Independent Study.