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The Effect of an Affective Music Recommendation System and Auditory Beat Stimulation on Anxiety

The Effect of an Affective Music Recommendation System and Auditory Beat Stimulation on Anxiety

Presenter Name:Adiel Mallik

School/Affiliation:Ryerson University

Co-Authors:Zoe Thomson, Frank Russo


Chronic anxiety is a growing psychological challenge worldwide and at pre-clinical levels, can be disabling. Some research suggests music may reduce anxiety symptoms as effectively as anti-anxiety drugs without adverse side-effects. Auditory beat stimulation (ABS) (4-7 Hz) may also reduce anxiety. But combining the anxiety-reducing properties of calm music and theta ABS has not been formally explored. Here, the anxiety-reducing potential of calm music curated by an affect-based AI agent with theta ABS was examined.

Participants (n = 264) taking anti-anxiety medication were randomly assigned to one of four separate experimental sessions: music & ABS, music, ABS, and pink noise. Pre- and post-intervention somatic and cognitive state anxiety measures (STICSA state anxiety) were collected along with trait anxiety (STICSA trait anxiety), personality measures, and musical preferences.

In moderate trait anxiety participants, the music & ABS and music groups had significantly higher somatic state anxiety reduction than participants in the pink noise and ABS groups (p < 0.05). These participants had no significant differences in cognitive anxiety reduction between any of the groups. In high trait anxiety participants, the music group had a significantly larger somatic and cognitive anxiety reduction than the ABS group (p < 0.05) but no significant difference compared to pink noise.

These results suggest that music interventions reduce somatic anxiety but not cognitive anxiety in moderate anxiety participants but have no effect on high anxiety participants compared to pink noise. Future work will examine whether consistent music intervention will reduce anxiety in high trait anxiety participants.

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