Research Article: Relaxation – Induced by Vibroacoustic Stimulation via a Body Monochord and via Relaxation Music – Is Associated with a Decrease in Tonic Electrodermal Activity and an Increase of the Salivary Cortisol Level in Patients with Psychosomatic Disorders

Date Published: January 23, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Hubertus Sandler, Uta Fendel, Petra Buße, Matthias Rose, Rainer Bösel, Burghard F. Klapp, Urs M. Nater.


Vibroacoustic stimulation by a Body Monochord can induce relaxation states of various emotional valence. The skin conductance level (SCL) of the tonic electrodermal activity is an indicator of sympathetic arousal of the autonomic nervous system and thus an indicator of the relaxation response. Salivary cortisol is considered to be a stress indicator of the HPA-axis.

Partial Text

Listening to music can promote a subjective feeling of wellbeing and induce a psychophysiological relaxation response, which is characterised by a reduction of the sympathetic activity of the autonomic nervous system. Various musical interventions in clinical settings were able to induce reductions of heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate, as well as decreases in anxiety and improvements of mood in different patient groups [1–8]. Especially slow and soothing music seems to facilitate the vegetative relaxation effect [9–12].

Six patients were excluded from the statistical analysis of the salivary cortisol data, because their measurement values of salivary cortisol were outside the standard curve. One patient was excluded from the statistical analysis of the self-rating scale and five patients were excluded from the statistical analysis of the BMS because of missing measurement data. SCL data of eight patients could not be used for statistical analysis because of measurement errors due to heavy perspiration and low adherence of the electrodes.

In this study we examined the effects of vibroacoustic stimulation via a Body Monochord in comparison with a relaxation music CD on the skin conductance level (SCL) and salivary cortisol levels in patients with psychosomatic disorders, in relation to the emotional evaluating scores for subjective experience during the exposure to the treatments.

A relaxation state, induced by vibroacoustic stimulation or listening to CD music, is associated with a reduction of the electrodermal activity and thus of the sympathetic arousal, which was more pronounced during higher emotionally positive feelings during the treatments.