Bass frequencies make us move more, new study shows

Bass frequencies make us move more, new study shows
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New scientific research confirms what DJs and electronic music fanatics knew all along: the deeper the bass, the more atmosphere and movement on the dance floor.

Together with five other researchers, neuroscientist Daniel Cameron, affiliated with the Canadian McMaster University, has found that people unconsciously dance more when inaudibly low bass frequencies are blended with the music. The team published the results of the study earlier this month in the scientific journal Current Biology.

The experiment was conducted at McMaster University in a concert hall that carries out experiments in music, sound and movement and how they influence human development and health.

Deeper bass = more movement

During a performance by the Canadian electronic music duo Orphx, a number of people in the audience wore headbands fitted with motion sensors. During the 55-minute concert, so-called VLF amplifiers that produced extremely low bass sounds were then turned on and off every 2.5 minutes.

The data collected showed that the people who wore motion sensors moved as much as 11.8% more when the VLF amplifiers produced very low sounds that are not consciously perceptible.

To verify that attendees were certainly unable to hear the extremely low bass, the scientists conducted an additional study after the concert. 17 participants were asked if they heard a difference between recordings of the performance in which the VLF amplifiers were on and recordings in which they were switched off but which were otherwise identical.

The test showed that the audience could hear no distinction at all. "I was impressed by the effect," Cameron said, as quoted by De Morgen. "People didn't hear that there were changes in the music, but those changes did guide their movements."

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The fact that bass frequencies, even when not consciously perceived, can still cause people to dance significantly more and more intensively supports the hypothesis that low sounds stimulate various sensory organs in the body (such as the skin and the vestibular organ) that are very closely linked to the motor system.

These connections bypass the frontal cortex in the brain, keeping perception at an unconscious level, but nevertheless prompting movement. "Research into the effects of low frequencies on hearing and the sense of balance and touch should reveal the exact brain mechanisms involved," Cameron said.

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