"Pop Muzak" may lower stress and help fight the common cold.

So suggest the results of a new study, "The Influence of FM-1 on Immunoglobulin A," by Carl J. Charnetski, professor of psychology, and Francis X. Brennan, Jr., assistant professor of psychology, at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The psychology professors co-authored the study with James F. Harrison, senior vice- president of marketing and sales at Muzak Ltd. in Seattle, WA. Their paper has been accepted for presentation at the Eastern Psychological Association Convention which takes place in Boston on February 8, 1998.

Two groups of college students were participants in the study which involved the presentation of Muzak's specially produced foreground music (FM-1). This type of Muzak is contemporary music and contains the vocal tracks. It is usually considered "pop" music. The purpose of the study was to specifically assess the effect of an FM-1 production on Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and stress levels.

One group was exposed to a 30-minute audio tape while the control group sat comfortably in silence. In the study, subjective reports of stress levels and saliva samples for the IgA analysis were collected at the beginning of the experiment, immediately after, one hour later, and three hours later in order to assess any time-course effects.

"The IgA analysis results showed a substantial increase immediately after treatment in the FM-1 group but not in the control group. IgA levels then returned to baseline levels in absence of the FM-1 presentation," explained Charnetski.

While the rationale for measuring stress might be intuitively obvious, the rationale for measuring IgA was two fold. IgA is an antibody produced by B lymphocytes. Measuring IgA provides some information as to general immune system functions. Secondly, IgA is found in all muscosa and provides a first line of defense against upper respiratory infection, says Brennan.

The results of this study expand and corroborate two previous studies with Muzak's Environmental Music. They are presenting a paper on one of the previous studies, "The Influence of Muzak on Stress and Immune System Function in a Newspaper Newsroom," at the annual meeting of The International Congress of Applied Psychology. That meeting takes place in San Francisco during August 1998. Their first study, "The Effect of Music on Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA)," was presented The Eastern Psychological Association Convention in April 1997.

"The IgA change in this study was of similar magnitude to the other two studies. The IgA increase, as expected, was not sustained in the absence of the brief music presentation. This study provides further evidence to suggest that improved immune system function may result from exposure to Muzak productions," says Charnetski.

The researchers didn't find any changes in mood level as a result of the Muzak. ###

Editors: Feel free to contact Dr. Charnetski at 717-831- 4564 (office) or 717-288-4901 (home). Dr. Brennan is at 717-831-4566 (office). Please contact Steve Infanti of Dick Jones Communications at 814-867-1963 for a copy of the paper. DJC helps Wilkes University with some of its public affairs work.

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