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The effects of music and alpha-theta-wave frequencies on meditation

Authors Eckl, F.
Year 2016
Thesis Type Master's thesis
Topic Psychoacoustics
Keywords meditation, music, alpha - theta wave
Abstract Meditation and music are usually performed together. In many cases music is the background of meditation. Thus, the question arises whether music has a positive effect on meditation. This master thesis deals with the assumptions that 1) music and 2) alpha-theta wave frequencies have an effect on meditation. It is hypothesized that 1) relaxing music has a positive effect on meditation compared to arousing music or no music, 2) arousing music has a negative effect on meditation compared to relaxing music or no music, and 3) alpha-theta wave frequencies have a positive effect on meditation/ relaxation compared to no music. Fast theta- and slow alpha- waves (6-10Hz) are representative for a meditative and relaxed state. As a consequence, it was tested whether these frequencies played via headphones are triggering a meditative or relaxed state. The assumption is that frequencies in the range of alpha and theta waves are able to provoke or intensify the production of these brain waves via superposition of waves or resonance phenomena and therefore a meditative and relaxed state can be achieved. A pretest evaluated the best music pieces for the conditions "relaxing music" and "arousing music" and tested the ability of the headphones to produce infrasounds at a certain sound pressure level without any audible by-products. In the main study GSR-measurements, standardized questionnaires (STAI-X, STOMP-R, and d2-R) and rating scales have been used to obtain valid data. The major findings are: arousing music has a significant negative effect on meditation. Relaxing music showed no significant differences with the lack of music, which might be due to background-noise on the audio-files. Alpha-theta-wave frequencies led to conflicting results. It is possible that these conflicts are due to two different states of relaxation, not separated in this study. Based on the results it is assumed that alpha- theta wave frequencies have a positive effect on a tired relaxed state and can trigger tiredness, whereas at the same time they have a negative effect on a meditatively relaxed state. Several explanations for this observation are discussed. Therefore, it it reasonable to argue that alpha- theta wave frequencies could be used against sleeping disorders as they appear to increase tiredness. However, further studies are needed, evaluating the proper effects of these frequencies on humans and testing the effects of relaxing music without background noises.
Supervisors Höldrich, R.