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Keywords:

  • Conditioning;
  • Children/Infants;
  • Blood pressure

Abstract

Given a possible effect of estrogen on the pleasure-mediating dopaminergic system, musical appreciation in participants whose estrogen levels are naturally elevated during the oral contraceptive cycle and pregnancy has been investigated (n = 32, 15 pregnant, 17 nonpregnant; mean age 27.2). Results show more pronounced blood pressure responses to music in pregnant women. However, estrogen level differences during different phases of oral contraceptive intake did not have any effect, indicating that the observed changes were not related to estrogen. Effects of music on blood pressure were independent of valence, and dissonance elicited the greatest drop in blood pressure. Thus, the enhanced physiological response in pregnant women probably does not reflect a protective mechanism to avoid unpleasantness. Instead, this enhanced response is discussed in terms of a facilitation of prenatal conditioning to acoustical (musical) stimuli.