New Zealand Rhythm Centre - Rhythm and Healing - Research on composite effects of group drumming, page 8
Rhythm Centre :: Rhythm and Healing :: Research and Studies
"Composite effects of group drumming music therapy on modulation of neuroendocrine-immune parameters in normal subjects." - Page 8


They are potent cytolytic cells that can kill some tumor cells, particularly bloodborne metastases and virally infected cells without the necessity of activation through an acquired immune response./46,47 Natural killer cells are important components in maintaining health in women with breast cancer, and NK cell activity appears to be inversely related to the perception of recent past stressors in the lives of these patients./12 Natural killer cell activity is particularly responsive to TH1 cytokine stimulation, especially with IFN-y and IL-2, the agents used to stimulate NK cell activity in this study. Similarly, a closely related cytolytic activity (LAK) also is stimulated by IL-2. Activities or agents that stimulate TH1 cytokine production therefore might enhance both NK cell activity and LAK cell activity, with resultant enhancement of antitumor and antiviral defenses.
      In this study, both NK cell activity and LAK cell activity were enhanced by the drumming session, but not in controls. A combination of exercise and behavioral/emotional components of the drumming session contributed to this elevation. Although it has been established that exercise itself enhances NK cell activity,/22,48,49 NK cell activity did not increase in the preliminary drumming studies using equal or higher levels of exercise.
      Irwin and colleagues/50-52 have demonstrated that the brain corticotropin-releasing factor system can alter NK cell activity via sympathetic neural connections to lymphoid organs./5 However, cortisol is not likely to play a role in modulating NK cell activity. Bodner et al/28 found no relationship in vivo between plasma corti-sol and NK cell activity in healthy humans, and Irwin et al/51 were unable to find a significant relationship between serum cortisol levels and reduced NK cell activity in bereaving women. Observations in this study further reinforce the lack of correlation between cortisol and NK cell activity. In the preliminary testing of 61 subjects prior to this study, a variety of drumming activities varying in duration, intensity, and type of activity were used. During each of these preliminary sessions, the greater proportion of subjects in each group demonstrated decreased plasma cortisol levels (post-pre differences). However, with the exception of the composite drumming group (P= .055), a corresponding increase in the proportion of subjects manifesting increased NK cell activity did not approach statistical significance. In the impact drumming group, a greater proportion of subjects actually manifested diminished NK cell activity (Figure 1 and Table 1).
      It is not yet known whether an increased DHEA-to-cortisol ratio could enhance NK cell activity or LAK cell activity, either directly or indirectly, via enhanced secretion of TH1 cytokines or other immunostimulatory signals. In subsequent studies, increased attention will be paid to sympathetic noradrenergic neural activity, and the influence of other immunomodulatory neurally related hormones.5 Only with a full temporal mapping of such immunomodulatory hormones and neurotransmitters will it be possible to better understand the mechanistic signaling basis for the enhanced NK and LAK cell activity with active drumming. At present, a wide range of possible mechanisms must be considered, including signaling effects on cell number, increased sensitivity to activation by cytokines, increased cytokine production by TH1 cells at local sites, and changes in cell trafficking, as contributory components to the elevated NK cell activity and LAK cell activity.

      Subjects participating in drumming sessions showed pre-post differences in white blood cell counts, hematocrits, and lymphocyte fractions to a similar degree and direction as control subjects. These findings support the contention that the immunologic findings in the present study are not attributable to compartment shifts (Figure 2 and Table 2). In addition, no pre-post differences existed in drumming subjects compared with controls for the Beck Depression Inventory II and the Beck Anxiety Inventory, suggesting that the experimental findings did not occur due to the presence or alleviation of preexisting anxiety or depression.


      This study is the first known clinical intervention using group-drumming music therapy as a modulator of biological variables in normal subjects. Both neuroendocrine and immunologic alterations were found in drumming subjects following this composite intervention compared with controls. These changes appear to be immunoenhancing (increased DHEA-to-cortisol ratios, increased NK cell activity, and increased LAK cell activi-ty). Group-drumming music therapy, carried out according to this protocol and using a specific approach for facilitating sessions that emphasizes camaraderie, group acceptance, light-hearted participation, and nonjudgmental performance, appears to attenuate and/or reverse specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune patterns of modulation associated with the classic stress response.
      Although these data demonstrate statistically significant modulation of specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune para-meters, this study (an initial single trial design) represents only the first step in determining the ultimate value of group drumming as a wellness or therapeutic intervention. In clinical terms, it is essential to consider factors such as timing, duration, and magnitude of effects and health status. Future studies specifically addressing these issues are required before suggesting group drumming as a potential treatment strategy for individuals facing the challenges of illness.
      Based on these preliminary data, however, group-drum-ming music therapy—in a manner similar to that of exercise, laughter, meditation, and other interventions that are practiced or enjoyed on a regular basis—has the potential to produce cumulative or sustaining neuroendocrine or immunological effects that could contribute to the well-being of an individual facing a long-term condition in which elevated NK cell activity is known to be beneficial.
      Group drumming is a complex composite intervention with long-standing historical roots that encompasses the subject's full participation with physical, psychological/emotional, and cognitive involvement. Further investigation is needed to elucidate precise mechanisms of neuroendocrine and immunologic alterations, document the full duration and magnitude of these effects, and measure potential neuroendocrine and immunologic changes associated with multiple sessions over time in individuals with chronic illnesses.MORE..

 The Rhythm Centre - connecting you with the power of rhythm
home | instrument sales & service | village drum circles | classes & workshops
rhythm in schools
| rhythm & healing | rhythm resources | contact us | email | sitemap