Research Publications on Music for Emotion Regulation and Stress Reduction

Music therapy has profound effects on emotion regulation (ER) and stress reduction, leveraging its influence on neural activation patterns associated with emotional processing. Positive emotional outcomes are associated with engaging in activities like listening to preferred music, singing, and improvising, especially among musicians.

A Systematic Review on the Neural Effects of Music on Emotion Regulation: Implications for Music Therapy Practice; Journal of Music Therapy, 2013; Link

This systematic review delves into the relationship between music, emotion regulation (ER), and their neural underpinnings, aiming to enhance understanding of how music and musical experiences can affect brain structures involved in ER. The findings highlight that certain characteristics of music and musical experiences can lead to desired or undesired neural activation patterns related to ER. Positive effects on ER were associated with listening to preferred and familiar music, singing, and improvising (particularly among musicians). Conversely, complexity, dissonance, and unexpected musical events in music were linked to undesired neural activation patterns. It underscores the potential of music as a tool for enhancing emotional well-being, suggesting clinical implications for structuring music stimuli in therapy to support individuals in managing their emotions more effectively.

Music therapy for stress reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis; Health Psychology Review, 2022; Link

A multilevel meta-analysis of 47 studies involving 2,747 participants revealed that music therapy has a medium-to-large effect on reducing physiological and psychological stress (d = .723). The analysis highlighted that clinical controlled trials (CCTs) showed larger effects compared to randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and interventions were more effective when compared with waiting list controls rather than care as usual (CAU) or other interventions. Notably, studies conducted in Non-Western countries reported greater effectiveness. These findings underscore the potential of music therapy in stress management, advocating for its integration into clinical practice and future research to further explore its benefits and mechanisms.