Salivary Oxytocin Concentration Changes during a Group Drumming Intervention for Maltreated School Children

Brain Sci. 2017 Nov 16;7(11):152. doi: 10.3390/brainsci7110152.


Many emotionally-disturbed children who have been maltreated and are legally separated from their parents or primary caregivers live in group homes and receive compulsory education. Such institutions provide various special intervention programs. Taiko-ensou, a Japanese style of group drumming, is one such program because playing drums in a group may improve children's emotional well-being. However, evidence for its efficacy has not been well established at the biological level. In this study, we measured salivary levels of oxytocin (OT), a neuropeptide associated with social memory and communication, in three conditions (recital, practice, and free sessions) in four classes of school-aged children. Following the sessions, OT concentrations showed changes in various degrees and directions (no change, increases, or decreases). The mean OT concentration changes after each session increased, ranging from 112% to 165%. Plasma OT concentrations were equally sensitive to drum playing in school-aged boys and girls. However, the difference between practice and free play sessions was only significant among elementary school boys aged 8-12 years. The results suggest that younger boys are most responsive to this type of educational music intervention.

Keywords: child abuse; drum playing; intervention; maltreatment; oxytocin; salivary.