Toronto Metropolitan University
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The effects of music & auditory beat stimulation on anxiety: A randomized clinical trial

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-20, 17:17 authored by Adiel Mallik, Frank RussoFrank Russo

Background and objectives: Music and auditory beat stimulation (ABS) in the theta frequency range (4–7 Hz) are soundbased anxiety treatments that have been independently investigated in prior studies. Here, the anxiety-reducing potential of calm music combined with theta ABS was examined in a large sample of participants.

Methods: An open-label randomized controlled trial was conducted with participants taking anxiolytics (n = 163). Participants were randomly assigned using the Qualtrics randomizer algorithm, to a single session of sound-based treatment in one of four parallel arms: combined (music & ABS; n = 39), music-alone (n = 36), ABS-alone (n = 41), or pink noise (control; n = 47). Preand post-intervention somatic and cognitive state anxiety measures were collected along with trait anxiety, personality measures and musical preferences. The study was completed online using a custom application.

Results: Based on trait anxiety scores participants were separated into moderate and high trait anxiety sub-groups. Among participants with moderate trait anxiety, we observed reductions in somatic anxiety that were greater in combined and music-alone conditions than in the pink noise condition; and reductions in cognitive state anxiety that were greater in the combined condition than in the music-alone, ABS-alone, and pink noise conditions. While we also observed reductions in somatic and cognitive state anxiety in participants with high trait anxiety, the conditions were not well differentiated.

Conclusions: Sound-based treatments are effective in reducing somatic and cognitive state anxiety. For participants with moderate trait anxiety, combined conditions were most efficacious.




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