If you have ever sung in a choir, you may have experienced a feeling of connection and togetherness with the other singers. This feeling doesn’t just “warm” the heart — it manifests there physically, too. A recent study of choral singers has suggested that when people sing in a group, their heart rate variability becomes synchronized from breathing together. Heart rate variability, as opposed to heart rate itself, is the slowing and speeding of the heartbeat that occurs due to physiological changes when we breathe in and out.
Scientific American points out that the researchers only tested this hypothesis using slow, relaxing songs and a small number of singers, without varying the breathing patterns within the group. Consequently, the study may not have confirmed that breathing together is the direct cause of the singers’ synchronized heart variability, but it puts forth an intriguing jumping-off point for future music research.