(Vienna, Saturday, June 19, 2021) Music by Mozart has been shown to have anti-epileptic effects on the brain and could be a possible treatment to prevent epileptic seizures, according to a new study presented today at the 7th Congress of the European Academy Neurology (EAN).
Researchers believe that the acoustic (physical) properties of music are responsible for this effect.
Listening to the famous 18th century composer Sonata for Two Pianos K448 resulted in a 32% reduction in Epileptiform Discharge (EDs). These are electrical brain waves associated with epilepsy that can cause seizures or bursts of electrical activity that temporarily affect the way the brain works.
A team led by Professor Ivan Rektor from the Epilepsy Center of St. Anne Hospital and CEITEC Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, compared the effects of listening to Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos K448 with Haydn’s Symphony No. 94. The effects on brain activity were measured with intracerebral electrodes implanted in the brain of epilepsy patients prior to surgery.
To our surprise, there were significant differences between the effects of listening to Mozart’s KV 448 and Haydn’s No. 94. Listening to Mozart resulted in a 32% decrease in EDs, but listening to Haydn’s No. 94 caused a 45% increase . In the second part of our study, we have set ourselves the goal of explaining the “Mozart effect” in epilepsy, ”continued Professor Rektor. The study found that men and women reacted differently to the two pieces of music. Listening to Haydn’s music led to suppressed epileptiform discharges only in women, and increased epileptiform discharges in men. The acoustic properties such as rhythm, dynamics and timbre showed that the acoustic characteristics of the musical composition affect men and women differently. Physical “acoustic” characteristics of Mozart -Music affects brain vibrations – or brain waves – that are responsible for reducing EDs.
Researchers previously suspected that the Mozart effect in epilepsy is linked to the emotional effects of music, since listening to music releases dopamine (the main neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system). However, there is no direct evidence for the mechanism.
We found that the reduction in EDs was greater in the lateral temporal lobe, the part of the brain involved in translating acoustic signals, than in the mesiotemporal limbic region, which plays an important role in the emotional response to music. The effects of listening to music on epilepsy cannot be explained by the effects of the dopamine released by the reward system. Our patients were not music connoisseurs and said they were emotionally indifferent to the two pieces of music. There was therefore no reason to believe that K448 produced more joy than # 94.
Experts believe the study’s results could pave the way for the development of individualized music therapies to prevent and control epileptic seizures in the future, and called for more research on the effects of music on the brain. Epilepsy affects 6 million people in Europe and 15 million Europeans have a seizure at some point in their lives.
Based on our research, we propose to investigate the use of pieces of music with well-defined acoustic properties as a non-invasive method to reduce epileptic activity in patients with epilepsy
View press release
Notes for editors:
A reference to the 7th EAN Congress must be included in the transmission of the information in this press release.
For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Luke Paskins or Sean Deans at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 20 8154 6396.
About the expert:
Professor Ivan Rektor is Professor of Neurology at Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic, Center and Department of Neurology of the Medical Faculty, St. Annes University Hospital and Research Group Leader at the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC). He is a world-renowned neurologist who is internationally recognized for his research on Holocaust survivors, epilepsy, and movement disorders.
1. K. Stillova et al. Mozart effect in epilepsy: why is Mozart better than Haydn? Acoustically quality-based analysis of stereo electroencephalography.
2. World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/mental_health/neurology/epilepsy/euro_report.pdf