Psychoneuroimmunology explores how our biological processes are influenced by our mental events and processes, and how these same biological processes can influence how we think and feel. Our research in this field has focused on how music – attending a concert, singing with others, group drumming – can influence biological markers, including hormones and inflammatory immune proteins. We have undertaken these studies in several health contexts including cancer, perinatal mental health, mental health service use, and the general population.
- Music can modulate multiple different biomarkers of the central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, endocrine system and immune system including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, cytokines, immunoglobulins and neurotransmitters via psychological and physiological pathways
- Short-term engagement in music can lead to decreases in stress hormones such as cortisol alongside increases in a wide range of cytokines (chemical messengers of the immune system), with these changes correlating with changes in stress, mood and emotional closeness
- There is preliminary evidence that music engagement can lead to shifts from pro- to anti-inflammatory immune profiles associated with more optimal psychological states