Relaxation - Induced by Vibroacoustic Stimulation via a Body Monochord and via Relaxation Music - Is Associated with a Decrease in Tonic Electrodermal Activity and an Increase of the Salivary Cortisol Level in Patients with Psychosomatic Disorders

PLoS One. 2017 Jan 23;12(1):e0170411. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170411. eCollection 2017.


Vibroacoustic stimulation by a Body Monochord can induce relaxation states of various emotional valence. The skin conductance level (SCL) of the tonic electrodermal activity is an indicator of sympathetic arousal of the autonomic nervous system and thus an indicator of the relaxation response. Salivary cortisol is considered to be a stress indicator of the HPA-axis. The effects of the treatment with a Body Monochord and listening to relaxation music (randomized chronological presentation) on SCL and salivary cortisol in relation to the emotional valence of the experience were examined in patients with psychosomatic disorders (N = 42). Salivary cortisol samples were collected immediately before and after the expositions. Subjective experience was measured via self-rating scales. Overall, both the exposure to the Body Monochord as well as the exposure to the relaxation music induced an improvement of patients' mood and caused a highly significant reduction of SCL. A more emotionally positive experience of relaxation correlated with a slightly stronger reduction of the SCL. Both treatment conditions caused a slight increase in salivary cortisol, which was significant after exposure to the first treatment. The increase of salivary cortisol during a relaxation state is contrary to previous findings. It is possible that the relaxation state was experienced as an emotional challenge, due to inner images and uncommon sensations that might have occurred.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / metabolism*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone

Grant support

The study was funded by Universitäre Forschungsförderung Charité (Universitary Research Support Charité, Identification: 11/48720)) in the period from 1.1.2011 to 31.12. 2011 with an amount of 3.800 (three thousand eight hundred) €. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.