Howlin, Stapleton, and Rooney studied how music can be used to reduce pain, collecting information from adults experiencing acute pain. They report that “Music is increasingly being recognised as an adjuvant treatment for pain management. Music can help to decrease the experience of both chronic and experimental pain. . . . in naturalistic settings, the present study examined the degree to which cognitive agency (i.e., perceived choice in music), music features (i.e., complexity), and individual levels of musical sophistication were related to perceived pain. . . . A bespoke piece of music was co-created with a commercial artist to enable the manipulation of music complexity while controlling for familiarity, while facilitating an authentic music listening experience. Overall, findings demonstrated that increased perceived control over music is associated with analgesic benefits, and that perceived choice is more important than music complexity.” Previous research has shown links between environmental choice/control and enhanced mental and physical wellbeing more generally.
Claire Howlin, Alison Stapleton, and Brendan Rooney. 2022. “Tune Out Pain: Agency and Active Engagement Predict Decrease in Pain Intensity After Music Listening.” PLoS ONE, vol. 17, no. 8, e0271329, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0271329