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Heartbeat music calms chimps

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Heartbeat music calms chimps By Helen Altonn haltonn@starbulletin.com Baby Go to Sleep, a recording of heartbeat music, works as well on rambunctious young
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 30, 2004
      Heartbeat music calms chimps

      By Helen Altonn

      "Baby Go to Sleep," a recording of heartbeat music, works as well
      on rambunctious young chimpanzees as on infants, Joseph Ruszkowski has

      The University of Hawaii-Manoa music professor played Terry
      Woodford's recording in a recent pilot study to try to reduce
      aggression among young male chimpanzees at Honolulu Zoo.

      The heartbeat music has "proven statistically significant in
      helping very, very small infants fall asleep," including his own
      15-month-old child, Ruszkowski said.

      The zoo has 10 chimpanzees -- four females and six males, four of
      whom are infants or juveniles, he said.

      "Since the males are entering adolescence, they are causing bodily
      injury and smashing glass," both of which are costly, he said. One
      broke a window that will cost about $50,000 to replace, he said.

      Brainstorming with Arthur Harvey, UH-Manoa music education
      coordinator, Ruszkowski said he developed a study for the chimpanzees
      similar to one Harvey conducted for cardiac patients.

      But Harvey was able to hook the patients up to monitoring devices,
      which he could not do with aggressive male chimpanzees and "keep all
      my fingers intact," he said.

      Ruszkowski said he played music about 30 minutes every morning for
      a week during the chimpanzees' most aggressive period. He played none
      in a trial period the next week.

      He has not finished analyzing preliminary data, involving 75
      variables, but his general observation was the music had a calming
      effect on the animals within 10 to 15 minutes, he said.

      "They were so relaxed, some chimpanzees were falling asleep. That
      is something that never happened before."

      Greg Hamilton, primary chimpanzee keeper, said he is continuing to
      play Woodford's heartbeat recording or Harvey's "Hawaiian Music with a
      Heartbeat" if he feels the animals are riled up in the morning.

      Videotapes of Disney movies also are popular, particularly with
      8-year-old Nalu, he said.

      After the chimps are taken from separate pens and put together in
      a group, there "definitely is increased aggression and excitement,"
      Hamilton said.

      "It's all about troop dynamics, the socialization of these guys.
      We have 8-, 9- and 10- and 13-year-olds. They all have way too much
      testosterone. They're aggressive to prove themselves."

      He said 10-year-old Kona Kona broke the window, "just feeling like
      he's macho man and needs to prove himself."

      Using music to mitigate the aggression is a "win-win situation,"
      he said. "If something happens, great. If it has no effect, we're
      still in the same situation."

      Based on preliminary results, Ruszkowski said he probably will do
      an expanded study in the summer.
    • Nina
      Hi, Bob, that s interesting, and not surprising. I have very fond early memories of resting my head on my mother s chest while being carried in her arms - it
      Message 2 of 2 , May 4, 2004
        Hi, Bob, that's interesting, and not surprising.
        I have very fond early memories of resting my
        head on my mother's chest while being carried
        in her arms - it was so fabulous to hear her
        heartbeat and her joints/body creak and move.
        It was even better when she walked - then I
        got that lurching sway as well as the warmth
        and sounds. It was a sad day when I got too
        big to be carried like that!

        I had the honor of being present with a girlfriend
        during her labor last week. You often hear that the
        fetal heart monitor is distracting during labor, but
        we both agreed that in the pre-dawn hours, it was so
        lovely and relaxing to listen to that rhythm.

        I bet there are many 'new age' / relaxation CDs
        available that take advantage of heart sounds to create
        relaxing soundscapes. One of my favorites is Anugama's
        CD Shamanic Dream - but that could be partly due to
        having heard it for a year or so in the context of a
        yoga class I was taking at the time. Whenever I hear
        it, I fall immediately into a more relaxed state.

        I think there are probably other sounds that call a
        similar relaxation response - such as the sound of
        waves on the beach, or water moving along stones.
        One of my favorite CDs that combines water, heartbeats,
        and natural sounds (and no instrumental or vocal music or
        other such unnecessary distractions) is Dolphin Dreams
        by an artist whose name I forget. It is uncannily transportive -
        I used to use it when I taught yoga at the YWCA and needed a
        sound buffer - sometimes, with the echoes in the room, I would
        feel literally overwhelmingly 'at the beach'. ;) By the way,
        the musician developed it for pregnant and birthing mothers -
        specifically his own wife.

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