When Drums and Hearts Beat as One
Group drumming leads to physiological and behavioral synchronization, and advances cooperation between the drumming members
In an interdisciplinary research project in which Bar-Ilan University neuroscientists and musicologists joined forces, they found that group drumming leads to behavioral and physiological synchronization: the heartbeats of the drummers are coordinated, promoting a social bond and strengthening the ability to cooperate. The research was published in the Scientific Report journal.
In research conducted on 51 three-member drumming groups, they found that while drumming as a group, many aspects of the members’ heart functions were synchronized, mostly in the interval between beatings (IBI). The physiological synchronization was documented during the drumming task especially developed for the research, in which an electronic beat was played for the drummers on a speaker and they had to drum accordingly on personal drumming surfaces, which were part of a joint drum set. Half of the groups were played a steady and predictable tempo, in an attempt to synchronize the drumming regardless, while the other half was played a tempo that constantly changed and was hard to follow or predict, with the expectation that their drumming would be asynchronized.
The task allowed the researchers to manipulate the level of behavioral synchronization between the group members and measure the dynamics of change in the IBI for each of them during the experiment. Later on, the participants were asked to improvise together. In groups where the level of physiological synchronization was higher in the first task, there seem to be more cooperation during the improvisation task.
Analyzing the data showed enhanced behavioral and physiological synchronizations during the drumming, presaging an intensified group cohesion experience. Researchers have shown that enhanced physiological synchronization also presages improved group performance in future group tasks