WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- A preliminary study revealed that singing might reduce stress and improve motor function for people with Parkinson's disease.
The study presented on Wednesday at the on-going Society for Neuroscience 2018 conference showed that those improvements among singing participants are similar to benefits of taking medication.
"Some of the symptoms that are improving, such as finger tapping and the gait, don't always readily respond to medication, but with singing they're improving," said Elizabeth Stegemoller, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.
The researchers measured heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels for 17 participants in a therapeutic singing group. Participants also reported feelings of sadness, anxiety, happiness and anger. Data was collected prior to and following a one-hour singing session.
All three levels were reduced, though the preliminary data did not reach statistical significance.
They are now analyzing blood samples to measure levels of oxytocin (a hormone related to bonding), changes in inflammation (an indicator of the progression of the disease) and neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to compensate for injury or disease) to determine if these factors can explain the benefits of singing.
The researcher previously found that singing was an effective treatment to improve respiratory control and the muscles used for swallowing in people with Parkinson's disease.