Cell melodies: when sound speaks to stem cells

February 15, 2020


Background: Our cells produce acoustic vibrations that may inform us of their state of health or disease. Music and voice, through the diffusive power of sound, permeate our body. Stem cells reside in all body tissues, orchestrating tissue repair throughout life. Can the sound of music and words affect human stem cells? This fascinating question has been the conductive theme of “Cell Melodies”, a world premier live experiment organized November 7th-9th, 2016 in Bologna, Italy, by VID art|science, an international movement of Artists and Scientists (www.vidartscience.org), and cured by Carlo Ventura, Professor of Molecular Biology and stem cell scientist at the University of Bologna, with Julia von Stietencron, Art Director of VID art|science.

Materials and Methods: On the scene, together with Milford Graves, a famous Jazz drummer based in New York, and Alessandro Bergonzoni, a renowned theater actor, there were human adipose-derived stem cells on the stage of a microscope equipped with a multispectral imaging (MSI) system. MSI allows information collection and processing across the electromagnetic spectrum (light), and was used to detect the electromagnetic emission spectra produced by stem cells in response to the sound patterns generated by the Artists. MSI data were projected onto a screen and made visible to the Audience.

Results: Different MSI patterns were generated by stem cells in response to different sound spectra produced by the Musician, whose performance sinks roots in the ancestral rhythms and sounds from Africa and Latin America, using the heartbeat as the beginning of every possible pace.

MSI also revealed that stem cell emission spectra remarkably changed during the Actor’s performance, varying upon sound emission patterning created by his dialog.

Conclusions: For the first time, we provided evidence that human stem cells are able to respond with different vibrational signatures to the sound generated by Artists in the form of music or voice dialog in live performances.

Future experiments are warranted to reveal whether the observed cellular responses may be associated with changes in gene/protein expression and signaling pathways, being of relevance for human stem cell homeostasis.