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Keywords:

  • EEG/ERP;
  • Heart rate;
  • Unconscious processes;
  • Normal volunteers

Abstract

While background music is often used during osteopathic treatment, it remains unclear whether it facilitates treatment, and, if it does, whether it is listening to music or jointly listening to a common stimulus that is most important. We created three experimental situations for a standard osteopathic procedure in which patients and practitioner listened either to silence, to the same music in synchrony, or (unknowingly) to different desynchronized montages of the same material. Music had no effect on heart rate and arterial pressure pre- and posttreatment compared to silence, but EEG measures revealed a clear effect of synchronized versus desynchronized listening: listening to desynchronized music was associated with larger amounts of mu-rhythm event-related desynchronization (ERD), indicating decreased sensorimotor fluency compared to what was gained in the synchronized music listening condition. This result suggests that, if any effect can be attributed to music for osteopathy, it is related to its capacity to modulate empathy between patient and therapist and, further, that music does not systematically create better conditions for empathy than silence.