“Love Me Tender” ; Hormones and Elvis

 

 Love Me Tender: Hormones and Elvis

 

Research published in the journal Psychology & Psychiatry has shown that listening to their favourite music increased oxytocin levels in WS sufferers.

The researchers were interested in a range of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and autism. They were looking into biological responses to music, including Elvis Presley’s voice, and the way specific hormones are involved.

The researchers, from the University of Utah, studied patients with a rare genetic disorder – Williams Syndrome. This condition causes patients to find it difficult to keep social interactions going, while also having the tendency to treat everyone as a friend. For example, they may approach complete strangers and strike up conversations as though they are old acquaintances.

WS patients also have an affinity for music, but also experience heightened anxiety, have an average IQ of 60, experience severe spatial-visual problems, and suffer from cardiovascular and other health issues.

The researchers played a group of WS patients and a control group of people without WS music in order to study the effects it had on subjects. Oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) were released in response to the music.

The research, published in PLoS ONE, was the first to reveal new genes that control emotional responses and to show that AVP is involved in the response to music.

Before the music was played, those with Williams syndrome had three times as much oxytocin as those without the syndrome.

 

Oxytocin rise in women after listening to Elvis:

After listening to “Love Me Tender” by Elvis, or their favourite music (many were into heavy metal), researchers found that their oxytocin levels had not only increased but begun to bounce. Among those without WS, both the oxytocin and AVP levels remained largely unchanged as they listened to music.

Elvis silhouette on American flag

Interestingly, the oxytocin level in the women who'd listened to "Love Me Tender" skyrocketed compared to the levels of participants who listened to different music.

The researchers believe the blood analyses strongly indicate that oxytocin and AVP are not regulated correctly in people with WS, and that the behavioural characteristics unique to people with WS are related to this problem.

Lead researcher Julie R. Korenberg, said: "Our results could be very important for guiding the treatment of these disorders. This shows that oxytocin quite likely is very involved in emotional response."

 

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