helpline 01494 601 400
07 October 2015

People with epilepsy react differently to music

Latest research from The Ohio State University has shown that the brains of people with epilepsy appear to react differently to music than the brains of those without the condition.

Researchers studied the brainwave patterns of 21 people with epilepsy comparing their data to those without.

Participants listened to 10 minutes silence followed by a random selection of either John Coltrane's 'My favourite things' or Mozart's 'Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos' followed by 10 minutes silence, the other piece of music and a final 10 minutes silence.

In both groups brainwave activity was seen to be much higher while listening to music. The brains of people with epilepsy synchronised more with the music than those who did not have the condition.

Synchronisation appeared in the frontal and temporal cortex and did not trigger seizures.

Music and seizures

Writing about music and epilepsy in  Epilepsy Society's magazine Epilepsy Review, Dr Melissa Maguire, consultant neurologist at Leeds General Infirmary, said: 'The relationship between music and the brain has been much researched over the last century. Yet the interaction between music and epilepsy remains poorly understood and under researched.

'The contrasting effect of music on epilepsy is intriguing. For a small number of people, it would seem that certain musical stimulus may trigger seizures. This is called musicogenic epilepsy. By contrast studies have shown that in some cases, specific musical patterns have the potential to help control seizures. This is known as the Mozart effect.

The dual role of music is fascinating and for some people could be significant.'

The painting above is by artist Nichola Moore.

Find out how you can get Epilepsy Review on a regular basis.