F&P: The human body as a rhythm machine

This week's Food & Paper will be given by Dongho Daniel Kwak (RITMO) on music for cells.

Dongho Daniel Kwak


“Rhythms are a basic phenomenon in all physiological systems”. Can we think of the human body as a rhythm machine? How does the body generate rhythms and process external rhythms? I have been involved in a research project where we are studying cellular responses to acoustic perturbation. It was noticeable that, in such mechanobiology research, the type of parameters used as sound stimuli are typically limited to frequency and amplitude. It seems necessary to expand the possibilities of controllable parameters to explore wider cellular properties that might have been overlooked. For this reason, musically and physiologically relevant features have been considered such as rhythm. Physiological rhythms are of particular interest which can be categorised into different time scales (ultradian, circadian, and infradian rhythms). They are typically found in vital parts of the body such as the cardiorespiratory system, or in patterns that are vital for the body such as sleep and wake cycles. Through a theoretical investigation of different levels of physiological rhythmicity, there are some indications of common essential elements (central, exterior, and reflex rhythms) that need to exist simultaneously to maintain homeostasis. In this Food & Paper session, I would like to share and have an open discussion on these essential rhythmic features of the body and some of the examples we can find on different rhythmic levels (cells, organs, and the whole body).


Dongho Kwak is a PhD candidate at RITMO and affiliated with Hybrid Technology Hub (HTH). As a music technologist, Dongho has experience in digital audio signal processing, live & studio recording, live sound engineering, and sound design. In terms of research, he is interested in the complexity of how the human body processes external information (e.g., external stimuli and/or environment). He is also a classically trained flautist and percussionist. Apart from sound and music, he is also interested in law and has been studying towards an LLB degree.

Published Apr. 8, 2021 2:16 PM - Last modified Apr. 8, 2021 4:07 PM