Biophysiologically synchronous computer generated music improves performance and reduces perceived effort in trail runners
Music has previously been shown to be beneficial in improving runners performance in treadmill based experiments. This paper evaluates a generative music system, HEARTBEATS, designed to create biosignal synchronous music in real-time according to an individual athlete's heart-rate or cadence (steps per minute). The tempo, melody, and timbral features of the generated music are modulated according to biosensor input from each runner using a wearable Bluetooth sensor. We compare the relative performance of athletes listening to heart-rate and cadence synchronous music, across a randomized trial (N=57) on a trail course with 76ft of elevation. Participants were instructed to continue until perceived effort went beyond an 18 using the Borg rating of perceived exertion scale. We found that cadence-synchronous music improved performance and decreased perceived effort in male runners, and improved performance but not perceived effort in female runners, in comparison to heart-rate synchronous music. This work has implications for the future design and implementation of novel portable music systems and in music-assisted coaching.
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