Over the last couple of decades, dozens of studies have set out to uncover the chemical effect of listening to music. A review in 2014 by Daisy Fancourt, research associate at the Centre for Performance Science in the UK, concluded that music certainly does impact a number of biological systems. Fancourt, however, decided to specifically measure the effects of attending a live, public concert on steroid hormone levels. Could the feelings, which we have all experienced at some point in our lives, be measured scientifically. For the recent study, the investigators used 117 volunteers from concert performances showcasing the music of composer Eric Whitacre. Over the course of two separate concerts (of the same music and duration), the researchers took saliva samples from the participants before the performance and then 60 minutes later, during the interval. Across the board, the team found a drop in glucocorticoids, including significant reductions in cortisol and cortisone. Previous laboratory-based studies also found reductions in cortisol levels, but this is the first time that it has been demonstrated in a live setting. It is also the first time that a similar reduction in cortisone (a close relative of cortisol) has been noted. Interestingly, the results were significant regardless of the age of the participants, their experience at concerts or their overall musical ability. The authors note that this suggests a "a universal response to concert attendance among audience members."
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