Music May One Day be Used to Treat Epilepsy

By Kiona Smith-Strickland on at

Epilepsy patients’ brainwaves tend to synchronise with music, and that discovery may one day help prevent seizures.

That’s according to a new study, which neurologist Christine Charyton of Ohio State University recently presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention.

For about 80 per cent of people with epilepsy, seizures start in the temporal lobes, the sections of the brain along the sides of the head, just behind the eyes. The temporal lobe is also home to the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes information about sound, including music.

While patients listened to music or sat through a period of silence, Charyton and her colleagues monitored the electrical activity in patients’ brains. The two musical selections for the experiment were John Coltrane’s version of My Favourite Things and Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D minor, andante movement. Every patient in the study, whether they had epilepsy or not, showed more electrical activity in their brains when listening to the music than when sitting in silence.

In epileptic patients, however, something more surprising happened. Electrical activity in epileptic patients’ brains tended to synchronise with the music, especially if the patients’ epilepsy was based in the temporal lobe.

Charyton says that music can’t replace conventional medical treatments for epilepsy, but it may one day be used to give an extra boost to existing treatments. [American Psychological Association]

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