JournalLanguage and Communication

Hyper-Frequency Network Topology Changes During Choral Singing

Choral singing requires the coordination of physiological subsystems within and across individuals. Previously, we suggested that the choir functions as a superordinate system that imposes boundary conditions on the dynamic features of the individual singers and found reliable differences in the network topography by analyzing within- and cross-frequency couplings (WFC and CFC, respectively). Here, we further refine our analyses to investigate hyper-frequency network (HFN) topology structures (i.e., the layout or arrangement of connections) using a graph-theoretical approach. In a sample of eleven singers and one conductor engaged in choral singing (aged between 23 and 56 years, and including five men and seven women), we calculated phase coupling (WFC and CFC) between respiratory, cardiac, and vocalizing subsystems across ten frequencies of interest. All these couplings were used for construction of HFN with nodes being a combination of frequency components and subsystems across choir participants. With regard to the network topology measures, we found that clustering coefficients (CCs) as well as local and global efficiency were highest and characteristic path lengths, correspondingly, were shortest when the choir sang a canon in parts as compared to singing it in unison. Furthermore, these metrics revealed a significant relationship to individual heart rate, as an indicator of arousal, and to an index of heart rate variability indicated by the LF/HF ratio (low and high frequency, respectively), and reflecting the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. In addition, we found that the CC and local efficiency for groups singing the same canon part were higher than for groups of singers constructed randomly post hoc, indicating stronger neighbor–neighbor connections in the former. We conclude that network topology dynamics are a crucial determinant of group behavior and may represent a potent biomarker for social interaction.

Müller, V., Delius, J. A. M., & Lindenberger, U. (2019). Hyper-frequency network topology changes during choral singing. Frontiers in Physiology, 10:207.
Article Link