Does art reduce pain and stress? A registered report protocol of investigating autonomic and endocrine markers of music, visual art, and multimodal aesthetic experience

PLoS One. 2022 Apr 14;17(4):e0266545. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0266545. eCollection 2022.


The pain- and stress-reducing effects of music are well-known, but the effects of visual art, and the combination of these two, are much less investigated. We aim to (1) investigate the pain- and (2) stress-reducing effects of multimodal (music + visual art) aesthetic experience as we expect this to have stronger effects than a single modal aesthetic experience (music/ visual art), and in an exploratory manner, (3) investigate the underlying mechanisms of aesthetic experience, and the (4) individual differences. In a repeated-measures design (music, visual art, multimodal aesthetic experience, control) participants bring self-selected "movingly beautiful" visual artworks and pieces of music to the lab, where pain and stress are induced by the cold pressor test. Activity of the pain and stress responsive systems are measured by subjective reports, autonomic (electrocardiography, electrodermal activity, salivary alpha-amylase) and endocrine markers (salivary cortisol).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Esthetics
  • Humans
  • Music*
  • Pain
  • Pain Management
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases*


  • Salivary alpha-Amylases

Grants and funding

The study will be funded by internal resources and by the Förderungstipendium of the University of Vienna. The funders had and will not have a role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.