A recent study pointed out the fact that epilepsy patients may react differently to music than people without the condition. The study was conducted by scientists from Ohio State University.
They found out that classical music, for instance songs by Mozart, could help prevent the seizures associated with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which causes seizures that originate in the brain.
This may lead to a new therapy to prevent seizures. Music therapy would function as a supplement to traditional therapy.
According to the findings of the study, approximately 80 percent of epilepsy sufferers have what is known as temporal lobe epilepsy, in which their seizures originate in the brain’s temporal lobe.
Moreover, music is processed in the same region of the brain. Brainwave activity was discovered to be noticeably higher when all of the study subjects listened to music.
Among patients with epilepsy, their brainwaves also synchronized with the music.
According to the scientific circle, this indicates that music may be able to prevent seizures by averting brainwave disruptions.
Brainwave patterns are, in neurophysiological terms, rapid fluctuations of electrical pulses that occur between parts of the cerebral cortex. These fluctuations are detectable with an electroencephalograph.
The Ohio State University team recorded these neurological fluctuations while patients experienced 10 minutes of silence, and afterwards monitored these patterns while they were listening to music.
Dr. Christine Charyton, the study’s lead author, explained that epilepsy cases occur, for the most part, in the temporal lobe, which is the brain area that helps turn sensations into meaning.
She said that 80 percent of people who suffered from epilepsy experienced temporal lobe epilepsy, to be more precise. This means the seizures begin in the temporal lobe. The auditory cortex is also a component of the temporal lobe, where people perceive music and hear sound.
Moreover, the auditory cortex is the cortical area that processes auditory information in humans (and other vertebrates).
The study’s lead author stated that when a seizure is experienced, the individual’s brain synchronizes with itself and so, they lose consciousness. However, this did not happen during their study.
As patients listened to Mozart or John Coltrane, the brain synchronized with the music instead, in the temporal lobe, she reported. The temporal lobe is the lower lateral lobe of either cerebral hemisphere. It contains the sensory center of the hearing ability, and is located in front of the occipital lobe.
Prof. Sarah Wilson, head of the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, and director of the Music, Mind and Wellbeing initiative at Melbourne University, said that two theories were pointed out as to why listening to music might be beneficial for epileptics.
One of the theories is that “music changes the synchrony of the neurons […] and that it has this ability to normalize that pattern so that it reduces […] the propensity of brains to have seizures.”
The second theory is that music has to do with mood. It is widely known that music puts people in good moods.
Conclusive results were issued: no one experienced seizures while listening to music, or during the entire study. The results proved to be promising according to the president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria and director of neurology at St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Mark Cook.
Dr. Cook concluded that a variant of therapy that involved something soothing, simple and safe such as music, instead of drugs or surgery, could only be a good thing for epileptics.
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