Music may help people with epilepsy

When listening to music, brainwave patterns of people with epilepsy are different from those who do not have the disorder, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s convention on Sunday. This finding could lead to new therapies to prevent seizures.

Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center focused on music and the brains of people with epilepsy because music is processed in the same region of the brain as where seizures appear to originate for temporal lobe epilepsy, the temporal lobe. This type of epilepsy makes up about 80 percent of cases.

The team collected data from 21 epilepsy patients, recording their brainwave patterns while they listened to a randomized pattern of silence and music: Mozart’s Sonata in D Major, Andante Movement II and John Coltrane’s rendition of My Favorite Things).

They found that participants’ brainwave activity was significantly higher while listening to music. Additionally, the brainwaves of people with epilepsy tended to synchronize more with the music, especially in the temporal lobe, compared to those without epilepsy.

"We were surprised by the findings," Christine Charyton, PhD, adjunct assistant professor and a visiting assistant professor of neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said in a news release. "We hypothesized that music would be processed in the brain differently than silence. We did not know if this would be the same or different for people with epilepsy."

Researchers believe their findings suggest music could be used as a novel therapy, in conjunction with traditional treatments to help prevent seizures in epilepsy patients.